As a San Francisco visa lawyer at the Law Office of Vaughan de Kirby, I help foreign athletes obtain visas to compete in the United States. If you are considering coming to the U.S. to take part in a sporting event or competition, you have several visa options available to you. One of the most popular choices is the P-1A visa for athletes, a non-immigrant visa that grants athletes, their trainers, their teammates, and their families temporary residence in the U.S.
There are two main avenues that athletes can use to obtain a P visa:
- As individual athletes. Athletes who are coming to the United States to participate in a single event, sporting competition, or athletic performance may apply for a P-1A as long as they are internationally recognized to have a high level of achievement. It must be demonstrated that the applicant has a degree of skill that is substantially above others in the same field, leading to notoriety in more than one country. Individuals may stay in the U.S. for 5 years under an athletic P-1A visa, and may be granted a maximum stay of 10 years if extensions are approved.
- As athletic teams. In order to apply for a team visa, your team must have achieved significant recognition in your sport—both in your home country and abroad. You must be coming to the United States to participate in specific team events or competitions that require internationally acclaimed participants. Upon approval, applicants may stay in the U.S. for up to 1 year in order to complete the competition or sporting event, but may be granted extensions of stay in increments of up to 1 year.