You’re an athlete who’s been invited to the U.S. for a major competition. Although you can compete at a high level in your sport, you just don’t have the necessary awards and recognition that is required to be granted a P-1 visa. Does this mean you won’t be able to participate in the competition?
Of course not. In order to allow amateur and minor-league athletes the opportunity to play in the U.S., there is a clause in the P-1 visa qualifications called the COMPETE Act. This extends visas to players who have not been offered full-time positions, but will perform in the U.S. temporarily in association with a major sports association.
Here are a few people who may benefit from the P visa’s COMPETE Act:
- International and amateur athletes – Any athlete competing on an international level—either as an individual or as part of a team—who is employed by a sports association with six or more teams or with an annual revenue of over $10 million may qualify for a temporary visa.
- Team players – Athletes may qualify for visas if they are participating in a U.S. franchise that is part of an international sporting association of 15 or more teams, as long as the players are excluded from attending college or earning a scholarship. Visas may also be granted to athletes employed by a minor league team under the same association qualifications.
- Coaches and trainers – Any athlete, coach, or trainer participating in a U.S. franchise that is part of an international sporting association of 15 or more amateur teams may apply for visas if the team is performing at the highest level of amateur play or if participation on the team or in the program will likely lead to being drafted into a minor or major league sports program in the U.S.
- Ice skaters – The COMPETE Act specifically provides P visas for professional ice skaters, ice skating teams, and coaches and trainers performing in exhibitions or tours in the United States.