Are you a foreign national athlete? If you are a professional athlete or an elite amateur athlete, who wants to temporarily come to the United States to live and compete in your sport (you don’t want to live here permanently), then there are three visa options that could possibly allow you to obtain your goals. If you just wish to come and compete in a tournament or event (where your only U.S. remuneration would be prize money), or a short-term training program, you can often accomplish this with a B-1 Business Visitor Visa (or no visa, if you are from a visa waiver country). This would allow you to stay in the U.S. for up to 180 days, for “business-related” travel.

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If you are an athlete that either wants to stay longer than 180 days or receive a salary while you are here (say for example, you have a job offer), then you generally will need to apply for either: an O Visa (for athletes with extraordinary abilities or achievement); or for a P Visa, for athletes that are “internationally recognized.” These visas are very similar in reality, however it is harder to obtain an O Visa. To get an O Visa as an athlete, you will have to be able to show that you are one of the few professional athletes at the very top of your sport. Very few professional athletes can meet the criteria to qualify for an O Visa (which allows the athlete an initial stay of 3 years), but many more can satisfy the requirement for a P-1A Visa. For information about the O Visa, please see our O Visa page. To learn more about the P-1A Visa for athletes, continue reading.   The P-1A Visa qualifies an individual athlete or an entire athletic team of athletes, to come to the United States to compete in their sport, on the basis of their “international recognition.” For an individual athlete to qualify for a P-1A Visa, then they must be an athlete that is internationally recognized. To establish that you are internationally recognized as an individual athlete, then you must be able to satisfy at least two of the following evidentiary requirements:

  • Evidence that you participated to a significant extent in a prior season with a major United States sports league;
  • Evidence that you participated to a significant extent in international competition with a national team;
  • Evidence that you participated to a significant extent in a prior season for a U.S. college or university in intercollegiate competition;
  • A written statement from an official of a major U.S. sports league or an official of the governing body of the sport which details how you are internationally recognized;
  • A written statement from a member of the sports media or a recognized expert in the sport which details how you are internationally recognized;
  • Evidence that you are ranked, if your sport has international rankings; and/or,
  • Evidence that you have received a significant honor or award in the sport.

  If you are an individual athlete coming to join a professional U.S. team or participate in a professional U.S. league, then generally USCIS is also going to want to see some sort of contract to evidence this (if contracts are customary in your sport). As with the P-1B Visa for entertainers, you are also going to have to provide an explanation of the event or an itinerary for the events you seek to enter the U.S. for, as well as a written consultation letter from an appropriate U.S.-based labor organization, attesting to your qualifications as an internationally recognized athlete and explaining the nature of your future work in the United States. For a USCIS-provided list of qualifying labor organizations that can provide these letters, please click here.The criteria for a whole athletic team to qualify for a P-1A Visa, is very similar to the criteria for individual athletes. However, it is the reputation of the team as “internationally recognized” that is important (not the individual reputation of athletes on the team). For an athletic team to qualify for a P-1A, the team must be able to satisfy at least two of the following factors:

  • Proof that the team has participated significantly with a major U.S. sports league;
  • A written statement by an official in the governing body of the sport, or from an official of a major U.S. sports league detailing the team’s international recognition;
  • A written statement from a member of sports media or another recognized expert in the sport, detailing the team’s international recognition;
  • Evidence the team is ranked internationally (if the sport has international rankings); and/or,
  • Evidence the team has received a significant honor or award in their sport.

Just as for individual athletes, athletic teams that qualify for P-1As will generally need to submit a written consultation letter from an appropriate U.S. labor organization (click here for a USCIS list of these organizations), attesting to the teams international recognition and the nature of the work they will be performing in the United States. Also, the team will need to submit a description of the event they wish to participate in/an itinerary of the events/competitions they seek to enter the United States to participate in.   How does the P-1A application process work? In addition to the written consultation letter, somebody is going to have to submit a I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on you or your team’s behalf. This can be submitted by a U.S. employer (think U.S. Professional Sport Team), or alternatively by a U.S. “agent.” We know that many foreign athletes who participate in individual sports (tennis or golf for example), may have their own foreign agent, and won’t be interested in hiring a true “U.S. agent.”  Luckily, there are various ways to address this issue of agency, and we at Zontlaw can be of assistance in satisfying this requirement. The other thing you will need to have is some level of organization with regards to your U.S. plans, as USCIS will want to see an itinerary. If you have an offer to be on a U.S. sports team, then this should be easy as a team schedule will probably largely suffice. If you are an individual athlete participating in an individual sport (tennis or golf, for example), then you will be required to have a higher level of organization with respect to your plans when applying (a schedule of tournaments for example). With that you have the basic requirements to obtaining a P-1A Visa as an internationally recognized athlete. This visa can be issued for athletic teams for up to a year, and for individual athletes for up to 5 years. However, the P-1A Visa is generally not issued for longer than required for the athlete or team to complete the competitions or events that are the basis of the visa application. You will be eligible to apply for extensions however, in one year increments for athletic teams for the extra time necessary to complete their competitions; and for individual athletes in increments up to 5 years (but again generally limited to the time necessary to complete your competition). Individual athletes are limited to a total stay of 10 years however, on this visa status. You will generally be able to bring your “essential support” staff (personal) with you on P-1S visas to work (think athletic trainers), and your dependent family members (spouse and unmarried children under 21) as P-4s. P-4s are not eligible to work while in the U.S., but they can study. If you believe that the P-1A might be the right visa for you, our experienced Zontlaw legal team is more than capable of helping you to apply for this. Contact us, today!

How long can I stay in the U.S. on P-1 work visa?

You may stay in the U.S. for up to five years with extensions not to exceed a total stay of ten years.

Can I bring my dependents?

Yes, spouse and unmarried children under 21 may apply for P-4 visa

Can P-1 holder apply for adjustment of status?

Yes, you can apply for Green card to become a permanent resident of the U.S.

Contact Attorney J.Greenberg


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    Check your Eligibility, Register, Begin your Forms, Sign & Pay when you’re Ready.. Our innovative online system allows you to figure out exactly which case or immigration benefit you are likely eligible for, just by answering a few simple questions. After that, our system will allow you to register in our online client portal for free; with the assigned case you’re likely eligible for. You’ll be able to begin working on your case for free, by filling out our easy to understand forms (that become official USCIS forms) automatically, with our software. If you like our system and want to retain us for our Attorney Application Review service, you will be able to sign our representation agreement electronically and make your first payment. How our Legal Services Work page.*
    Schedule and have your Initial Consultation with your Attorney. After you have made the minimum payment, you will be prompted to schedule your initial consultation with your attorney. Your attorney will then contact you on the date and at the time you select. During the Consultation, your attorney will verify that you are indeed eligible for the case our software assigned, and that it is the best option for you. They will then instruct you on how to properly continue to fill out your assigned Immigration Forms, and about any required or recommended supporting documentation for your case type. Your attorney will also seek to address any questions or concerns you may have, about your individual process and petition. How our Legal Services Work page.*
    Finish completing your Forms, your Attorney Checks your Petition, and you Submit. You will use our innovative software system to continue to fill out the necessary forms for your case, and any supporting documentation. Then when you have completed everything, your attorney will check your USCIS forms for accuracy, completeness, adherence to USCIS standards and procedures, and any possible ineligibility/inadmissibility grounds that might come up. Your attorney will tell you how best to address any problems with your petition that they observe, and then you will make the necessary and/or recommended changes. If you elected for the add-on service of having your attorney check your supporting documentation, they will also give you feedback on that. Once you have made the proper changes, you will print your petition, sign where indicated, and then send it off to USCIS in the pre-addressed and pre-paid envelope, we provide. From there, you’ll only have to make sure to respond to any ensuing correspondence or requests from USCIS, should there be any. How our Legal Services Work page.*

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    With more than a decade in the field, Julia Greenberg has earned a reputation as a highly successful immigration attorney. Since 2006, she has represented countless corporate and individual clients in complex matters ranging from removal (deportation) to asylum, family, business and investor’s petitions, and employment-based cases.

    Authorized to practice in immigrant courts throughout the United States, Ms. Greenberg may also appear before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Northern, and Eastern districts of New York, and the New York Supreme Court. Ms. Greenberg takes pride in helping clients who have been unable to get satisfactory results elsewhere. Her honesty and compassion, combined with her expertise and vast knowledge of immigration law make her a formidable opponent in court – resulting in a long list of satisfied clients and positive referrals.

    Outside of court, Ms. Greenberg often addresses Congress regarding relevant legislation. She also devotes her spare time to making presentations at local events, where she answers questions for New York’s immigrant community.Ms. Greenberg is a member of the New York City Bar Association, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), where she is a member in good standing in its New York Chapter. Ms. Greenberg is also fluent in Russian.

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    Once you assemble and upload all required documents, we will check if the evidence is correct and will provide a cover letter.

    Becoming a US citizen entails specific rights, duties and following benefits: consular protection outside the United States; ability to sponsor relatives living abroad; ability to invest in US. real property without triggering additional taxes; transmitting US citizenship to children; protection from deportation and others. U.S. law permits multiple citizenship. A citizen of another country naturalized as a U.S. citizen may retain his previous citizenship

    Once you assemble and upload all required documents, we will check if the evidence is correct and will provide a cover letter.


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