Foreign athletes who would like to come to Florida to participate in a sports competition may qualify for a P-1A Internationally Recognized Athlete visa. This visa may be issued to an athlete who is coming into the U.S. to compete individually or as part of a team. In order to qualify for a P-1A visa, the applicant must be internationally recognized for their athletic achievements, and the competition they are planning to participate in must be distinguished.
The process of securing a P-1A visa begins when the athlete’s U.S. employer files a Form I-129, Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker. The petitioner may be an agent for multiple employers as long as they are authorized to act as this type of agent. Along with the petition, the petitioner must include supporting documents that prove that the athlete has a contract to participate in a major U.S. sports event.
An athlete is allowed to stay in the U.S. on a P-1A visa for the amount of time needed to complete their athletic performance. The maximum stay is five years for an individual athlete and one year for a team, although these periods can sometimes be extended. Essential support personnel may accompany an athlete or athletic group to the U.S. for a maximum stay of one year.
When a sports team requires visas to travel to the U.S. for an athletic event, the amount of paperwork can be overwhelming. An employment immigration attorney may be able to help an individual athlete or sports team with the process of petitioning for visas and gathering supporting documents. If an athletic competition is delayed, an attorney may be able to help the athletes to apply for extensions of their stays.