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How international athletes enter the U.S. - II

A few weeks back, our blog began exploring how it was that the international athletes who participate in some of the most popular sports -- from mixed martial arts and soccer to hockey and baseball -- are able to enter the U.S. to participate in games, matches and bouts.

The answer, as we started exploring, was the P-1A visa, which enables either an athlete or a group of athletes to enter the country to compete in a specific competition provided certain elements are satisfied, including the applicant(s) having either achieved or taking part in an event that has gained international recognition.

Having examined the eligibility requirements, today's post will now examine the application process and the supporting documents that must be submitted in order to secure a P-1A visa.

The primary document that must be submitted to secure a P-1A visa is the Form I-129, Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker, which must be accompanied by both a fee and various supporting documents.

As to the supporting documents that must be submitted by the U.S. employer, U.S. agent, U.S. sponsoring organization or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent, these include the following:  

  • A copy of the itinerary and explanation of the event
  • A copy of the contract with a U.S. sports team or league, or contract in an individual sport commensurate with international recognition (if applicable)
  • A written consultation from an appropriate labor organization (if one exists)

In addition, documentation demonstrating at least two of the following will need to be submitted along with the Form I-129:

  • Evidence of having participated to a "significant extent" in a prior season with a major U.S.-based sports league
  • Evidence of having participated to a "significant extent" in international competition with a national team
  • Evidence of having participated to a "significant extent" in a prior season with a U.S.-based college/university in intercollegiate competition
  • Evidence that the applicant or their team is internationally ranked
  • Evidence that the applicant or their team has been the recipient of a major award or honor in their sport
  • A written statement from a sports writer or recognized expert outlining how the applicant or their team is recognized around the world
  • A written statement from a U.S.-based league official or governing body of the sport outlining how the applicant or their team is recognized around the world

We'll conclude this discussion in a future post, examining both periods of stay under the P-1A visa and the options available to their family members.

Please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have any concerns relating to the ability of an athlete, artist, model or entertainer to enter the U.S.

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