Home  P-1, P-2, P-3 Visa Application & Extension  |  Google+  Facebook  Twitter

The Different Types of P Visa, and the
Requirements and Procedures for P Visa Application

1. The Introduction of P Visa

A short-term U.S. work visa known as the P visa is available to outstanding athletes, athletic teams, and entertainment companies (including circuses) with a job offer from a U.S. employer. Their essential support personnel may also be granted visas. There is no annual limit on the number of people who can receive P visas.

P visa is for certain athletes, artists and entertainers who wish to live and work temporarily in the United States. To begin the application process, the future employer must file a Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) in the United States with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the Department of Homeland Security. If approved, the USCIS will mail the petitioner a Form I-797 (Notice of Action). The beneficiary may then apply for a P visa at the United States Embassy or Consulate. The P visa consists of four classifications: P-1, P-2, P-3 and P-4. The P visa classification covers aliens that are internationally recognized athletes, artists or entertainers. 

The spouse and unmarried children of the P visa holder may also accompany the P visa holder to the United States during his or her duration of stay. The P-1 visa may be issued to an individual or to a team or group. The P visa allows for individuals that are part of a team or entertainment group to come to the United States and perform temporarily. Other classifications under the P visa cover individuals who perform, teach or coach in culturally unique programs. 

The P-1S, P-2S and P-3S visas are designated for support staff intending to stay in the U.S. temporarily as an essential part of a competition or performance, athletic or arts and entertainment-related. If you are an entertainer or an athlete desiring to enter the U.S. and you do not qualify for an O visa, a P visa may be the best option for you. The P visa allows entertainers and athletes to come into the U.S. and stay for five years. P-1 visa can help athletes, musicians, band members and other entertainers enter the U.S. legally to work and pursue their endeavors. 

The P-1 visa is usually valid for five years. Athletes, athletic teams, singers, individual musicians and entertainment groups including bands, as well as anyone who is an integral part of an entertainment group, can enter the U.S. on a P visa. Family members (spouses and children) of P-1 visa holders can accompany them to the U.S. through the P-4 visa.

Obtaining a P visa for an alien requires three steps:

1) Obtaining an advisory opinion from a labor organization (or submitting evidence that such an organization does not exist).

2) Approval by the USCIS of a P visa application supported by the advisory opinion.

3) P visa application and issuance by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate based on the approved P visa petition.. 

2. Key Features of the P Visa

P visa is a U.S. work visa, and it is available to outstanding athletes, athletic teams, and entertainment companies with a job offer from a U.S. employer. There is no annual limit for the number of people who can receive P visa. Some of the advantages and disadvantages of the P visa include:

  • The P visa holder can work legally in the U.S. for the P visa sponsor. If, however, the person wants to change jobs, getting a new visa will be necessary.

  • P visas can be issued relatively quickly.

  • P visas will be granted for the length of time needed to complete a particular event, tour, or season, up to a maximum of one year. However, P-1 athletes may be admitted for a period of up to five years with one extension of up to five years. P visa holders may also be allowed some extra time for vacation, as well as for promotional appearances and stopovers incidental and/or related to the event.

  • A P visa holder may travel in and out of the U.S. or stay continuously for as long as the P visa stamp and status are valid.

  • A spouse and unmarried children under age 21 may receive P-4 visas to accompany the main P visa holder, but they may not accept employment in the United States.

3. The Different Types of P Visa

1) P-1 Visa for Internationally Recognized Athletes/Entertainers: An internationally recognized athlete traveling to the United States to compete and his or her essential support personnel require P-1 visas. The P-1 visa include: (a) alien athletes who compete individually or as part of a team at an internationally recognized level; and (b) aliens who perform with or are an integral and essential part of the performance of an entertainment group that has received international recognition as "outstanding" for a "sustained and substantial period of time". 

2) P-2 Visa for Artists and Entertainers: It includes including individuals or groups, who seek to be admitted through a reciprocal exchange program between a foreign-based and U.S.-based organization, which are engaged in the temporary exchange of artists and entertainers. The exchange of artists or entertainers must be similar in terms of caliber of artists or entertainers, terms and conditions of employment, and number of artists or entertainers involved in the exchange.

3) P-3 Visa for Culturally Unique Programs: An artist or entertainer who is traveling to the United States to perform, teach, or coach under a culturally unique program requires a P-3 visa.

4) P-4 Visa for Spouse and Children of a P Visa Holder: Spouses and children under the age of 21 can receive P-4 visas to travel with or follow-to-join the principal alien in the United States.

The P-1 visa classifications cover individuals who compete at an internationally recognized level. The P-2 visa classification is for individuals who are entertainers or a part of a performance group that perform on a reciprocal exchange program with U.S. organizations. Necessary documentation includes formal reciprocal exchange agreements, descriptions of the exchange program and evidence of qualifying skills. 

The P-3 visa applicant must be at least 18 years of age, be qualified to perform the work as specified on the petition, communicate effectively, and have not resided in the United States during the last year before arrival on a P-3 visa. 

4. The Procedures of P Visa Application

The procedures of P visa application include:

1) The filing of a petition (Form I-129) with the USCIS in order to obtain permission to employ a P visa alien for a temporary period. An employer may file the P visa petition in advance of a scheduled event, competition or performance.

2) Before the petition can be approved, a consultation requirement must be met; the law requires the submission of an advisory opinion from a labor organization with expertise in the alien's specific field. The petition may establish that a labor organization does not exist.

3) The P visa petition may be filed for multiple P visa aliens if they are members of a group or team seeking classification based on the reputation of the group or team as an entity.

4) Essential support personnel cannot be included in the same petition as the principal P visa alien or group. Separate petitions must be filed for support personnel.

5) Substitution of aliens is permissible in the P visa category once a petition has been approved, but only with regard to teams or groups. Substitution is not allowed with regard to individual principal aliens or support personnel in the P visa category.

6) Following approval of the petition, the foreign national must take the approval notice for the petition to the U.S. Consulate to apply for the P visa.

5. Other Requirements for P Visa Petition

P visa may only be permitted to perform services in "specific identified" events, performances, competitions, or engagements. P visa may not be granted to an alien to enter the U.S. to freelance in the open market. The alien or group will be admitted only for the duration of the event, performance, competition, or engagement listed in the petition. An extensions may be granted solely to complete the same activity.

The USCIS rules permit "United States Agents" to file petitions in cases involving workers who are traditionally self-employed or who use agents to arrange short-term employment on their behalf with numerous employers, and in cases in which a foreign employer authorizes the agent to act in its behalf. 

6. Duration of Stay for P Visa Holder

P-1 individual athlete and essential support personnel may be authorized to extend stay for a period up to five years for a total period of stay not to exceed ten years. Other P-1, P-2, P-3 foreign nationals and support personnel may be authorized to extend stay in increments of one year to continue or complete the same event or activity for which admitted.

1) Except for individual P-1 athletes, the initial period of stay for P nonimmigrants can be approved for the amount of time necessary for the specific competition, event or performance, for a period of up to one year.

2) With regard to individual P-1 athletes, an initial period of stay can be approved for five years, up to a total of ten years.

3) In the case of a P-1 athlete or team, the event may be the duration of the alien's contract, if the contract is longer than the season. 

4) In the case of a P-2 petition, the event may be the duration of the reciprocal exchange agreement. 

5) An extension of stay for a P-1 individual athlete and support personnel can be granted for an additional period of five years, for a total period of stay not to exceed ten years.

6) Extensions of stay for all other P nonimmigrants and support personnel can be granted in increments of up to one year to continue or complete the same event or activity for which they were admitted.

7) In addition, extensions may be granted to complete additional, similar or comparable performances, engagements or competitions not listed in the initial petition.

7. Support Personnel for P-1, P-2, and P-3 Visa Holders

Highly skilled, essential persons who are an integral part of the performance of a P-1, P-2, or P-3 visa holder may also be granted P visas (with the same visa designation as the primary visa holder). These persons must perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and that are essential to the successful performance of services by the P-1, P-2, or P-3 visa holder. 

The support person must have appropriate qualifications to perform the services, critical knowledge of the specific services to be performed, and experience in providing such support to the P-1, P-2, or P-3 visa holder.

8. The Labor Consultation and Its Waiver

Before the P visa petition can be approved, a labor consultation consultation should be submit. The labor consultation must come from a union with appropriate expertise, meaning that the union generally occupies the field of endeavor or a related one, even if it is not a collective bargaining representative in the particular field.

To obtain a consultation, prepare everything as you would for filing with USCIS but before filing, air courier a full copy of the materials, or at least enough to make the case, to the appropriate union. The union will reply directly to you. The turnaround time for union responses varies from 2 days to more than 2 weeks.

The consultation requirement is waived for purely administrative management positions, such as executive directors, and business administrators, financial officers, business representatives, and others with no direct input into the creative aspects of the production or performance, and also in cases where there is no appropriate union, as with interpreters, music librarians and even artistic administrators.

To support a waiver request on grounds of lack of an appropriate labor organization, supply a statement by the petitioner, or someone else with knowledge of the field, to the effect that from personal knowledge based on long experience in the field, there is no relevant labor organization. It is best first to check with the unions to verify that they do not “cover” a particular position.

More Articles for P1, P2, P3 Visa Application and Extension
P-1 Visa for Athlete and Members of Entertainment Groups
P-2 Visa for Artists and Entertainers in Exchange Program
P-3 Visa for Artists and Entertainers in Culturally Program
Frequently Asked Questions/Answers about P Visa
William's Answers for Questions about P-1, P-2, P-3 Visa Application and Status
Do-It-Yourself Package for P Visa or Status Application
P1, P2, P3 Visa Application and Extension Process
Home Page


For All Your Immigration and Green Card Application Needs
EB-1A sample of reference letter graphic © Green Card Application Service, www.greencardapply.com