Athletes Without a Team: Alternatives to the P Visa for Tryouts in the U.S.

If you are an athlete seeking to expand your career by playing in the United States, you’ve probably been reading a lot about the P-1 visa. This visa is ideal for bringing well-established individuals and team players who have achieved international recognition for their skills in their field to the U.S. But what if you are coming to the U.S. for a chance to be part of a major team, but haven’t yet been offered a position?

While USCIS does not allow athletes to use the P visa for tryouts in the U.S., there are other ways athletes may enter the country to compete for a spot on a team. The most popular choices are the B-1 visitor visa or by applying for a visa waiver.

To apply for the Visa Waiver Program, an athlete must be from a participating Visa Waiver country, have a valid passport, and stay in the U.S. for no longer than 90 days. If you do not qualify for a waiver, you may be able to seek a B-1 visa, which will allow you up to six months of residence in which to accomplish your goals.

In order to be granted a B-1 visa, you must demonstrate that you:

  • Are traveling specifically for legitimate business reasons—open trials, open training days, etc.
  • Will remain in the U.S. for a specific, limited period of time
  • Will be able to pay for your own travel expenses and the full cost of your stay in the United States
  • Have a permanent residence outside the U.S. that you continue to maintain and do not plan to abandon
  • Have family, business, or other binding ties which ensure your return to your native country
  • Meet all other USCIS admission requirements

While you will only be able to stay in the U.S. for a limited time under a visitor’s visa, you will be able to apply for a P-1 visa after your trial is over and you have been offered a position. At that point, you may want to consider the O-1 visa instead of the P-1 visa, as it will allow you and your family the opportunity to stay in the U.S. permanently.

For more answers to your questions on the P visa, athletic tryouts in the U.S., and getting green cards for you and your family, we welcome you to read the related articles listed on this page. You can also click the link above to contact the Law Offices of Vaughan de Kirby today.

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