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The O-1 Visa or P-1 Visa Application Options for Athletes

Hi William:

As an excellent athlete in basketball, how could I apply for a visa for professional sports in United States?


The athletes coming to the U.S. may qualify for O-1 visa or P-1 visa application. The O-1 visa category is limited to individual athlete, and is subject to high eligibility standard. The athlete must demonstrate extraordinary ability in the field, and intend to continue to work in the same area in the United States. 

When considering the O-1 visa application option for athletes, it is important to consider both the athlete's past accomplishments and the proposed activity in U.S. 

For example, if an athlete has achieved extraordinary ability before as a basketball player but he can no longer compete in the field, then he may not necessarily be eligible for the O-1 classification as a basketball coach. Because a person who possesses or previously possessed extraordinary athletic ability, and wishes to enter the U.S. as an O-1 to coach will need to demonstrate a record of extraordinary ability as a coach.

An alternative option to the O-1 visa classification for athletes is the P-1 visa, which is generally easier to obtain than the O-1 visa. The level of achievement required for P-1 visa classification is that of "renowned, leading, or well-known in more than one country," which is somewhat lower than the extraordinary ability required for O-1 visa. 

Also, the P-1 visa category can be used for both individual athletes and athletic teams, and can be used for participants in both professional and amateur sports.

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