Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC
One Practice. One Focus. One Passion: Immigration Law.

A look at visa requirements for visiting international athletes

California residents may wish to know more about the visa process for bringing international athletes into the U.S. for competitions. Once granted, these visas are available and renewable for the duration of the athletic event.

Known as the P1-A visa, this type of immigration visa has certain requirements. These are slightly different for teams and individuals. For teams, they must be traveling to the U.S. in order to compete in a team sport that requires teams to be internationally recognized. Additionally, the team itself must have gained some international recognition. Individuals must meet similar requirements on an individual level. They must have some individual skill or other achievement that has caused them to be recognized internationally.

If these requirements are met, the athlete or team's employer in the U.S. must file the appropriate form, pay the fee and include certain documents to support the application. If there is a labor organization that governs the athletic activity, the employer must also consult with them on the matter. Once accepted, individuals may stay for five years. This may be extended to 10 years, if necessary. Teams may only stay up to one year or as long as it takes to finish the event, whichever is shorter. They may extend this time in one-year increments when needed.

Understanding the particular requirements to obtain a visa for work, athletics or other situations may require the assistance of employment immigration attorneys. An attorney may be able to determine eligibility, file the forms and follow up with USCIS as necessary. The attorney may also be helpful in applying for extensions in order for the immigrant to continue their work in the U.S.

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