P-1 Visa

A P-1 visa is a type of non-immigrant visa granted to an outstanding athlete who wants to train or compete in the U.S.

The athlete cannot apply personally for this visa. Instead, the player’s agent, lawyer or club gets involved, filing the petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to obtain the visa for thé athlete.


Outstanding athletes and athletic teams may apply for a temporary work visa known as a P visa. The U.S. sets no limits on the number of P visas issued in a fiscal year. These visas are granted to athletes for the length of time needed for an event, tour, or season, up to a maximum of one year. However, P-1 visas, granted to internationally recognized outstanding athletes, may be good for up to five years, with one possible five-year extension.

The following features apply to P visas for athletes:

  • P visas can be obtained relatively quickly.
  • P visas holders may work in the U.S. for the P visa sponsor only; to legally work for someone else, they must obtain a new visa.
  • For as long as the stamp and status are valid, P visa holders may stay continuously in the country or travel in and out of the U.S.
  • Spouses and unmarried minor children of P visa holders may obtain P-4 visas and accompany the main visa holder to the U.S., but they are not permitted to work with this status.


To qualify for a P-1 visa, with a longer stay in the U.S., an athlete or team must have significant international recognition in the sport, as stated by USCIS. To demonstrate international recognition, an athlete must produce a contract with a major U.S. team, league, or sporting event, along with at least two of the following types of documentation:

  • Proof of a significant honour or award received in the sport.
  • A written statement of how the athlete or team is internationally recognized from an official of a major sport league or the governing body of the sport.
  • Proof of the athlete or team’s previous significant participation with a major U.S. league.
  • Proof of the athlete’s previous significant participation with a U.S. college in intercollegiate competition.
  • A written statement of the athlete or team’s international recognition from a recognized expert or the sports media.
  • Evidence of the athlete or team’s international ranking.
  • Proof of the athlete’s participation with a national team in an international competition.


A soccer team has signed a forward, Player X, who starred in a foreign league, to a pre-contract ahead of the 2020 season. Player X will join his new team upon the opening of the Secondary Transfer Window in July. He will also occupy an international roster spot, pending receipt of his P-1 Visa and International Transfer Certificate (ITC).