The P-1A Visa: For Internationally Recognized Athletes

Interested in coming to the U.S. to participate or compete in athletics? The P-1A visa allows you the opportunity to do so. The P-1A visa grants internationally recognized athletes permission to temporarily come to the U.S. to participate in an event, competition, or performance.[1] Athletes have the option of coming to participate as an individual or with a team.

Many international athletes have come to the U.S. to improve their skills by competing in internationally renowned sports associations. International players have participated in athletics with the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Hockey League (NHL), and more. Prominent athletes who have received this visa include Japanese baseball player Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees, Italian tennis player Stefano Ianni, and Mexican soccer player Mauricio Curiel Hernandez of the Omaha Vipers.

To be eligible for this visa, athletes must be internationally recognized with a high level of achievement as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition that is above that ordinarily encountered – such that the athlete is renowned, leading or well-known in more than one country. For teams, the event in which they are participating in must be distinguished and require the participation of other athletic teams who have also received international recognition.  Additionally, essential support staff who play an important part of the athlete(s)’ performance may also apply for the P-1A visa. This includes, but is not limited to: coaches, trainers, and scouts.

With competition ever increasing, we are sure to see an increase in international athletes coming to the U.S. For more information on the P-1A visa, contact an experienced Immigration Attorney today.


[1] “P-1A Internationally Recognized Athlete” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: April 4, 2014, available here.

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