Athlete Immigration Visas: Who Qualifies and How to Get One

Athletes have immense physical gifts that afford them opportunities not always open to other people. Even when they live in the most repressive of regimes, such as Fidel Castro-era Cuba or the U.S.S.R., they travel the world playing their games. Many nations believe it reflects well on their countries to display their gifted athletes this way. After all, that’s often the best chance to make a positive impression on the rest of the world, because sports are so popular no matter which continent you’re on.

Those athletes coming to the United States to compete generally must secure a visa before they arrive. This special type of visa gives the athlete the right to come across the border temporarily to take part in an athletic contest or series of contests, such as the Olympic Games or World Baseball Classic.

What is this visa — and how can an athlete obtain one? At Shane & Shane, a Fort Lauderdale law firm, we have experience obtaining sports visas for our clients and assisting them with all their athlete immigration needs.

What Is a P-1A Visa?

Our Florida lawyers help athletes obtain their P1-A visas. This is one of two P1 visas related to athletics and entertainment. The P1-B allows a member of an entertainment group to enter the United States, while athletes obtain the P-1A. You must fulfill several requirements to get the P-1A visa:

  • You must attend a specified athletic competition. You cannot apply for the visa without saying exactly what event, game or tournament you plan to play in.
  • That event must be recognized internationally. The level of competition must be high. This aims at discouraging someone from applying for a P-1A visa for a small event such as a local 5K race. Otherwise, the government would be overrun with applications.

Generally, such visas are given only to exceptionally talented athletes competing near the top ranks of their sport. Athletes must prove past accomplishments in the sport.

What Are the Terms of a P-1A Visa?

When you get a P-1A visa, you receive up to a year of U.S. visitation. You must pay $460 to file the forms to receive the visa and you can apply for an extension as needed.

Do You Need a Lawyer for Athlete Immigration Visas? Try Our Miami-Area Law Firm

Applying for a P-1A visa can be confusing for those who have not done it before — especially if there are language barriers. Let Shane & Shane help walk you through the steps you need to take to get a visa.

Whether you’re an athlete or a team sponsor assisting in the visa process, we can steer you in the right direction. Contact us today to discuss what type of visa is right for your situation.