P1 Visa For eSport Professionals:
Let The USCIS Game Begin!
In a notable development in the field of eSports, USCIS has
begun to approve P1 petitions for eligible professional video
gamers who are internationally recognized, enabling them to
come and stay in the U.S. for up to 5 years, and perform for
payment or prize money in the U.S.
eSports professionals - Take your game to the next level!
Until recently, USCIS was resistant to the idea that a professional video gamer could be an “athlete.”
It would appear that is no longer the case.
Earlier this year, USCIS began issuing P1 visas to professional video gamers participating in
the League Championship Series, essentially qualifying the league as a professional sports league
on par with the NBA, MLB and NFL.
What Is P1 Visa and Do I Need It?
The P1 visa is available to internationally recognized athletes or athletic teams entering the U.S. to participate in an event of international standing.
If coming to the U.S. to join a U.S. athletic team, the applicant must have achieved significant international recognition.
USCIS now recognizes eSports or professional video gaming as an athletic sport and eSport professionals are “athletes” making them eligible to seek P1 visa.
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USCIS approvals depend upon on how well you articulate your case.
How Do I Get P1 Visa?
In order to obtain P1 visa to come and perform in the United States, a U.S. employer must file and obtain an approved P1 petition from USCIS.
Once the P1 petition is approved by USCIS the foreign national athlete must apply for a P1 visa at a U.S. consulate outside the U.S.
Upon successfully obtaining the P1 visa stamp in his or her passport, the foreign national athlete may then enter and perform in the U.S.
What Evidence Is Required For Success?
When filing with USCIS, a successful P1 petition must contain the following items:
- Evidence of having legally contracted with a major U.S. sports league
- A written consultation from an appropriate labor organization
- Evidence demonstrating that the athlete meets at least two of the following criteria:
- Significant participation in U.S. major sports league in prior seasons
- Participation in international competitions with a national team
- Significant participation in a prior U.S. college/university season in inter-collegiate competitions
- Written statement from a major U.S. sports league or official of the sport's governing body demonstrating the alien's or team's international recognition
- Written statement from the sports media or a recognized expert
- International ranking provided by internationally recognized sports' organizations
- Significant honors/awards in the sport
If the athlete is in the U.S. in another valid nonimmigrant status, the P1 petition may be filed as a “Change of Status” and a P1 visa from a U.S. Consulate is not required until international travel takes place.
Name: Danny ”Shiphtur” Le
Occupation: Professional Video Gamer Danny became one of the first eSports players to be granted a P1A visa. He was coming to the U.S. for participation in the League Championship series.
Name: Kim “ ViOLet” Dong Hwan
Occupation: Professional Video Gamer Kim was granted a 5 year P1A visa enabling him to come to U.S. and participate in eSport events and competitions. Significantly, he was not coming to the U.S. participate in the League Championship series, but as a StarCraft player.
These cases most certainly indicate that USCIS can be open-minded towards what’s considered a “sport” if the case is well-put together.
Top Benefits of P1 Visa
1. Long Stay In The U.S.
- Foreign national athletes are allowed to stay in the U.S. for up to 5 years on a single P1 visa, with extensions not to exceed a total stay of 10 years.
2. Visas For Dependents
- Spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 of a P1 visa holder may obtain P4 visa to come and live in the U.S. While dependents may attend school or college, they are not able to take up employment in the U.S. while in P4 status.
3. Visas For Support Personnel Too
- Essential Support Personnel, namely those who are an integral part of the performance of a P1 athlete and who perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker, are also eligible for P1 classification as Essential Support Personnel. This includes coaches, scouts, trainers, other team officials and referees.
Recent developments have expanded the eligible ‘athletes’ who are able to seek a P1 visa.
VisaPro immigration attorneys regularly qualify foreign athletes for P1 and O1 visas and help showcase their talent in the U.S
Contact VisaPro Law Firm today for a FREE P1 Visa Consultation. We'll talk through your priorities and recommend strategies for filing P1 visa based on our attorneys' near 100% success rates.
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