O vs. P Visas for Athletes
Choosing the correct visa category is critical to your success. Some visas are only suited to certain types of sports professionals participating in certain types of activities. If you choose an inappropriate visa for your situation, you likely will not qualify for legal status in the eyes of USCIS.
To choose between an O and P visa, you will need to consider several factors—namely, the activities you will be completing during your stay.
O-1 visas are best for those who:
- Are high-level athletes;
- Are training in the United States but are not competing; and/or
- Have media and endorsement contacts with brands and companies in the United States.
P-1 visas, on the other hand, are best for those who are:
- Coming to the U.S. to participate in internationally recognized competitions;
- Fulfilling an out-of-season competition schedule; and/or
- Competing in exhibitions (either with or against a national team).
If you do not have a competition schedule, you may still be able to obtain a P-1 visa if you describe your practice sessions as exhibitions.
Some foreign athletes may only need the B-1 visitor visa, but these are extremely limited in terms of your permitted activities. Most critically, you cannot be paid for work in the U.S. on a B-1 visa. The only exception is prize money, and you must exercise caution when accepting these payments as well.
Ultimately, no amount of research will compare to the personalized guidance you will receive from our attorneys at Oakhurst Immigration Law. If you want to know which visa is right for you, let us assess your situation and provide counsel backed by years of experience.