Chapter 4 - Documentation and Evidence
A P-1 petition for classification as an internationally recognized athlete, team, or entertainment group must be supported by evidence that the person, group, or team is internationally recognized as outstanding in the discipline and is entering to perform services which require such a level of performance. If the petition is for a group of entertainers, the petition must contain evidence that at least 75 percent of the group have been performing with the group for at least 1 year. The petitioner must submit a consultation from a labor organization, if one exists.
Internationally Recognized Individual Athlete or Athletic Team
For a team, the petitioner must submit evidence that the team as a unit is internationally recognized. For an individual athlete, the petitioner must submit evidence that the athlete has achieved international recognition in the sport based on his or her reputation.
A petition for an athletic team or individual athlete must include a tendered contract with a “major United States sports league or team” or tendered contract in an individual sport commensurate with international recognition in that sport, if such contracts are normally executed in the sport. USCIS interprets “major United States sports league” as a league that has a distinguished reputation that is commensurate with an internationally recognized level of performance, and “major United States sports team” as a team that participates in such a league, consistent with the statutory standard for internationally recognized athletes.
Therefore, under this interpretation, the league (or the team within the league) may be one where the level of competition in the league is such that the league (or a team within the league) would not be able to remain competitive or maintain its current distinguished reputation in the sport without the services of at least some internationally recognized caliber athletes.
Factors that may be considered include, but are not limited to: information about the structure of the league or the differentiated categories of competition; documentation showing a pattern of participation by internationally recognized athletes; level of viewership, attendance, revenue, and major media coverage about the league or its teams or competitions; international ranking of athletes competing; or documented merits requirements for league participants.
The petitioner must also submit documentation of at least two forms of the following:
Evidence of significant participation in a prior season with a major U.S. sports league;
Evidence of participation in international competition with a national team;
Evidence of significant participation in a prior season for a U.S. college or university in intercollegiate competition;
A written statement from an official of the governing body of the sport detailing the alien’s or team’s international recognition;
A written statement from a recognized expert or member of the sports media detailing the alien’s or team’s international recognition;
Evidence that the alien or team is ranked if the sport has international rankings; or
Evidence the alien or team has received a significant honor or award in the sport.
In general, the petitioner must submit evidence of the group's nomination or receipt of significant international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in its field or three forms of the following types of documentation:
Critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements showing that the group has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in productions or events with a distinguished reputation;
Reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other published material showing the group’s international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field;
Articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials showing that the group has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
Ratings, standing in the field, box office receipts, recording or video sales, and other achievements in the field, as reported in articles in major newspapers, trade journals, or other publications showing major commercial or critically acclaimed success;
Testimonials showing that the group has achieved significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field; or
Contracts or other reliable evidence that the group has either commanded or will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field.
The petitioner must submit evidence the beneficiary is coming to join (perform in) a circus that has been recognized nationally as outstanding for a sustained and substantial period or as part of such a circus.
Essential Support Personnel
The petitioner must submit a statement describing the support personnel’s prior essentiality and skills and experience with the principal beneficiary, group, or team.
A petition filed on behalf of an alien seeking P-2 nonimmigrant classification should be submitted with the following supporting evidence: the consultation, a copy of the reciprocal agreement, and evidence that the beneficiaries are subject to the reciprocal exchange. A list of negotiated P-2 reciprocal agreements is maintained on the P-2 Individual Performer or Part of a Group Entering to Perform Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program webpage. If a reciprocal agreement is submitted other than those listed, the officer must review the agreement to determine if the agreement adheres to the regulatory standard.
A petition filed on behalf of an alien seeking P-3 nonimmigrant classification should be submitted with the following supporting evidence:
Affidavits, testimonials, or letters from recognized experts attesting to the authenticity of the alien’s or the group’s skills in performing, presenting, coaching, or teaching the unique or traditional art form and giving the credentials of the expert, including the basis of his or her knowledge of the alien’s or group’s skill; or
Documentation that the performance of the alien or group is culturally unique, as evidenced by reviews in newspapers, journals, or other published materials.
In addition, the petition must be submitted with evidence that all of the performances or presentations will be culturally unique events.
Along with the supporting documentation, a statutorily mandated consultation process exists for all P petitions. This consultation must be from an appropriate labor organization and address the nature of the work to be done and the alien’s qualifications or, for certain classifications, the organization may indicate it has no objection to approval of the petition. The petitioner has the burden of furnishing a consultation.
The source and contents of the consultation varies, depending upon the type of petition as shown in the table below.
Source and Contents of Consultation
Consultation with an appropriate labor organization is required if one exists. The consultation must evaluate the alien's (group's) qualifications and state whether the services or performances are appropriate for an internationally recognized athlete or entertainment group. The labor organization may also issue a letter of no objection.
Consultation with an appropriate labor organization to verify that a bona fide reciprocal agreement exists.
Consultation with an appropriate labor organization to evaluate the cultural uniqueness of the entertainer(s) and whether the performances are in a cultural program appropriate for the P-3 classification. The labor organization may also issue a letter of no objection.
Essential Support Personnel
Consultation with an appropriate labor organization. Consultation must evaluate the essential character of the work, the relationship between the principal and support workers, and the availability of U.S. workers to do the job. The labor organization may also issue a letter of no objection.
The regulations specify mandatory response times for consultations for expedited cases and prescribe action to be taken when a requested opinion is not received. The consultations are advisory in nature only and are not binding on USCIS. A negative consultation does not automatically result in the denial of the petition, as decisions must be based on the totality of the evidence. Accordingly, if the petitioner submits evidence that overcomes a negative advisory opinion and which establishes the merits of the alien, USCIS may approve the petition.
If USCIS has determined that a petition merits expeditious handling, USCIS contacts the appropriate labor organization and requests an advisory opinion if one is not submitted by the petitioner. The organization then has 24 hours to respond to the request. If no response to the request is received, then USCIS renders a decision on the petition without an advisory opinion.
[^ 1] See 8 CFR 214.2(p)(4)(i). INA 214(c)(4)(A) provides more information regarding petitions filed under the Creating Opportunities for Minor League Professionals, Entertainers, and Teams through Legal Entry (COMPETE) Act of 2006. See Pub. L. 109-463 (PDF) (December 22, 2006).
[^ 2] See 8 CFR 214.2(p)(4)(iii). Exceptions to some requirements apply to certain entertainment groups under 8 CFR 214.2(p)(4)(iii)(C). For more information, see Chapter 2, Eligibility Requirements, Section A, P-1 Nonimmigrant Classification [2 USCIS-PM N.2(A)].
[^ 6] See INA 214(c)(4)(A)(i)(I) and INA 101(a)(15)(P)(i). USCIS provided this interpretation in its policy guidance on March 26, 2021 in order to provide increased clarity for USCIS officers, to promote consistent adjudications, and to increase transparency for prospective petitioners. While alternative interpretations of the undefined regulatory phrase “major United States sports league or team” are possible, USCIS believes that this interpretation most closely aligns with the statute being interpreted, which requires that internationally recognized athletes perform “at an internationally recognized level of performance.” In addition, the interpretation is consistent with USCIS’ longstanding adjudicative focus on that statutory requirement.
[^ 9] See previous discussion regarding the interpretation of “major United States sports league or team.”
[^ 10] See 8 CFR 214.2(p)(4)(iii)(B). Exceptions to some requirements apply to certain entertainment groups under 8 CFR 214.2(p)(4)(iii)(C). For further discussion, see Chapter 2, Eligibility Requirements, Section A, P-1 Nonimmigrant Classification [2 USCIS-PM N.2(A)].
8 CFR 214.2(p) - Artists, athletes, and entertainers
8 CFR 214.2(p)(2)(ii)(D) - Evidence required to accompany a petition for a P nonimmigrant
8 CFR 214.2(p)(4)(i) - Types of classification
8 CFR 214.2(p)(4)(ii)(B) - Evidentiary requirements for an internationally recognized athlete or athletic team
8 CFR 214.2(p)(4)(iii) - Form of documentation
8 CFR 214.2(p)(4)(iv) - Other filing situations
8 CFR 214.2(p)(7) - Consultation
INA 101(a)(15)(P) - Extraordinary ability in arts or athletics as part of a group
INA 101(a)(15)(P)(i) - Definition of P-1 nonimmigrant
INA 204(i) - Definition of Professional Athlete
INA 214(a)(2)(B) - Admission (Stay)
INA 214(c) - Admission of nonimmigrants
INA 214(c)(1) - Importing Employer
INA 214(c)(4) - Petition of Importing Employer
INA 214(c)(4)(A) - Petition of importing employer
INA 214(c)(4)(A)(i)(I) - Petition of importing employer for athlete at an internationally recognized level of performance
INA 214(c)(5)(B) - Return Transportation
INA 214(c)(6) - Consultation Requirement
Pub. L. 109-463 (PDF) - COMPETE Act of 2006
No appendices available at this time.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to update and clarify guidance for internationally recognized athletes (P-1A nonimmigrants).
This technical update is part of an initiative to move existing policy guidance from the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) into the Policy Manual. This update does not make major substantive changes but consolidates and incorporates existing AFM guidance into the Policy Manual, streamlining USCIS’ immigration policy while removing obsolete information. This guidance replaces Chapter 33 of the AFM, related appendices, and policy memoranda.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is revising its policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to align with the Fee Schedule and Changes to Certain Other Immigration Benefit Request Requirements Final Rule, published in the Federal Register on August 3, 2020. This guidance becomes effective October 2, 2020. For information regarding implementation, see Appendix: 2020 Fee Rule Litigation Summary.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating and incorporating relevant Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) content into the USCIS Policy Manual. As that process is ongoing, USCIS has moved any remaining AFM content to its corresponding USCIS Policy Manual Part, in PDF format, until relevant AFM content has been properly incorporated into the USCIS Policy Manual. To the extent that a provision in the USCIS Policy Manual conflicts with remaining AFM content or Policy Memoranda, the updated information in the USCIS Policy Manual prevails. To find remaining AFM content, see the crosswalk (PDF, 327.05 KB) between the AFM and the Policy Manual.
This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].