U.S. Law Center

What is a P-1A visa and who is eligible to receive one?

If you are traveling to the United States to participate in a sporting event and are considered an internationally recognized athlete, you may be eligible to apply for and receive a P-1A temporary worker visa. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, your spouse and children may also travel to the United States with you. Your children will be able to attend school, although neither they nor your spouse will able to work.

The P-1A visa applies to both individual athletes, as well as those who will be competing as part of a team. For an individual athlete, the visa will be good for an initial five-year period with extensions available. However, the total stay in the country cannot exceed 10 years. For competitors participating as part of a team, the initial stay is for one year, followed by possible additional one year extensions until the competition has been completed.

In order to be considered an internationally recognized athlete, an individual must have demonstrated that his or skill exceeds normal ability. This can be evidenced by achieving something outstanding or by being well-known in a country other than his or her own. For team athletes, the event they are competing in must be renowned and the teams participating must be of the highest caliber.

The P-1 visa is also available to those who are considered essential support personnel. Examples of this type of worker include trainers, coaches and referees. The job performed by such people must not be able to be completed by an American worker. In other words, their presence must be indispensable to the athlete or competition.

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