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Temporary Visas for Athletes and Entertainers


Have you ever wondered how athletes, singers, actors and other entertainment and sports industry professionals from other countries are allowed into the United States? You might think that these individuals have to go through the same process as everyone else who applies for a standard temporary work or student visa; however, there is a type of temporary visa available exclusively to athletes and entertainers who are going to be in the U.S. for a short period of time, either for a competition, performance or paid job pertaining to their talent or skill. The P-1 classification of temporary visa applies to any athletes or entertainers on an internationally recognized level of performance (such as a pro baseball player or a dancer with Cirque du Soleil or a similar type of troupe).


The P-1A classification is for internationally recognized athletes who are coming to the United States to participate in a competition, event or performance, either as an individual or as part of a team. The athlete must be internationally recognized for their skill and have a high level of achievement in their sport. Professional athletes, Olympic athletes, and renowned runners who have won or placed in internationally-known marathons are examples of the type of athlete who would qualify for a P-1A visa. In order to qualify for the P-1A, the athlete must be able to meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • Participation in an international-level competition with a national team

  • International ranking

  • Significant participation in a prior U.S. major league season

  • Significant participation in a prior U.S. intercollegiate season

  • A written statement from the official of the sport’s governing body (such as NFL Commissioner)

  • Written statement from sports media figure or expert (such as Major League Baseball commentators)

  • Significant honors or awards in their sport (such as an Olympic gold medal)


Members of internationally-known entertainment groups can be eligible to come to the U.S. on a P-1B visa. Anyone who performs with an entertainment group that has been recognized on an international level as outstanding is eligible for the P-1B visa, though they must provide three of the following forms of evidence to support their case:

  • Starring or leading role in entertainment productions with distinguished reputations

  • Record of major commercial or critical successes

  • International acclaim or recognition for outstanding achievements

  • Significant recognition for achievements (internationally-recognized awards for acting, for example)

  • A high salary as a result of their entertaining skill

For those who wish to enter the United States on a temporary visa and are not Academy Award-winning actors, platinum-record selling rock stars, or high-grossing stars of blockbuster action movies, other forms of temporary visas for entertainers exist. The P-2 classification for individual or group performers who are part of a reciprocal exchange program, which places United States entertainers of similar ability in the foreign country from which the incoming entertainers have immigrated. Still another classification, the P-3, exists for artists or entertainers who are coming to the United States to be part of a culturally unique program. This would apply to flamenco dancers who hail from Madrid and are here to showcase their dance skills in a way that furthers the the understanding or development of the dance form.


If you are an artist, entertainer or athlete and feel as though you may be eligible for a temporary U.S. visa in one of these classifications, Diaz Shafer, PA, and her associates can help determine your eligibility. Sunstate Immigration in Tampa, FL has assisted many immigrants with the sometimes- complicated process of applying for and obtaining visas, obtaining U.S. citizenship, matters of deportation and more. Call us today at 813-250-1300 to speak with an immigration law expert and find out how to take the first step toward your journey to the United States.