P Visas – Entertainers and Athletes

P Visas for Performing Entertainers And Athletes

P status is defined under Section 101(a)(15)(P) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as added by § 207(a) of IMMACT 90 modified by §§ 202, 203, 204, 206, and 207 of the Miscellaneous and Technical Immigration and Naturalization Amendments of 1991 (the 1991 Act).

Internationally known athletes, either individually or as a team, and entertainment groups are eligible for P-1 classification. Performing artists under a reciprocal exchange program may seek P-2 classification and P-3 aliens are culturally unique entertainers. All three P classifications include accompanying personnel. The P-4 category is for dependents of principal P aliens.


Alien athletes performing at internationally recognized levels are eligible for P-1 classification. The standard for classification as a P-1 athlete is more relaxed than that of the O-1 athlete.

An alien athlete may be afforded P-1 classification premised on his or her own reputation in the international community. The proposed services must require the abilities of an internationally recognized athlete. Teams are eligible for P-1 classification if they are deemed internationally outstanding and are entering the U.S. to perform services requiring international recognition.

Team members may also be granted P-1 classification premised on membership but the individual member must perform with the team.

Individual and team applicants must provide USCIS with a copy of a contract with a major U.S. sports team or league or individual sporting event(s) provided that contracts are normally executed in the sport. P-1 athletes and teams must also document at least two of the following:

  • Significant participation in a prior U.S. major league season;
  • Participation in international competition with a national team;
  • Significant participation in a prior U.S. college or university season in intercollegiate competition;
  • Written statement from a major U.S. sports league or official of the sport’s governing body detailing the alien’s or team’s international recognition;
  • Written statement from the sports media or a recognized expert respecting international recognition;
    International ranking;
  • Significant honors or awards in the sport.


P-1 classification may be granted to alien members of entertainment groups if the alien(s) performs with a group recognized internationally as outstanding in the field for a sustained and substantial period of time. Seventy-five percent of the aliens seeking P-1 classification must have had a sustained and substantial relationship with the group for not less than one year and be entering the United States strictly to perform with the entertainment group. The remaining twenty-five percent will be eligible if otherwise qualified. USCIS may also waive the one year relationship for an alien who is replacing an essential P-1 member absent because of illness or emergent circumstances. CIS may also substitute the “international recognition” requirement with a “nationally outstanding” criteria in special circumstances. The one year membership requirement does not apply to essential circus personnel.

The services to be performed must require an internationally recognized entertainment group. P-1 classification is approved or denied on the basis of the group’s international reputation and not on the merit of any given member’s achievement. 8 CFR § 214.2(p)(4)(I)(B).

International recognition may be established by submitting evidence that the group was nominated for or received significant international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in their respective field, or by showing that the group has achieved three of the following:

  • Has and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in productions or events with distinguished reputations;
  • International recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievements;
  • Has and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments with a distinguished reputation;
  • Record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes;
  • Significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, other recognized experts;
  • Has commanded or now commands a high salary or other substantial enumeration comparable to others similarly situated. 8 CFR § 214.2(p)(4)(iii)(B).

P-2 Classification

P-2 classification may be granted to artists and entertainers who perform individually or as part of a group, pursuant to a reciprocal exchange program between one or more U.S. organizations and one or more similar organizations abroad. Only a few reciprocal exchange programs have been formed to date

P-3 Classification

P-3 classification is granted to artists and entertainers who, individually or as a group, are recognized by certain organizations and/or experts as being “culturally unique”. “Culturally unique” is defined as “a style of artistic expression, methodology, or medium which is unique to a particular country, nation, society, class, ethnicity, religion, tribe, or other group of persons.” 8 CFR § 214.2(p)(3).

Limited Admission For All P Classifications

Admission in each of the P classifications is limited to a specific performance, competition, event or performance. Admission is limited to an activity such as an athletic competition or season, tournament, tour exhibit, project, entertainment event, or engagement.


P classification will not be granted to any alien unless USCIS has received a consultation from an appropriate labor organization “regarding the nature of the work to be done and the alien’s qualifications”. USCIS will waive the consultation if the employer documents that there are no appropriate labor organizations existing in the field. 8 CFR § 214.2(p)(7)(i)(A), (F).