Extending P-1 Visa for Athletes
A P-1 visa is a special category of visas issued to athletes and group entertainers. The P-1 visa allows foreign nationals to enter the United States to compete or participate in an event or performance. Foreign nationals granted a P-1 visa could be given an authorized period of stay of five years and an extension of additional five years, not to exceed a period of ten years of admission in the United States in P-1 status.
On March 6, 2009, the Immigration Service issued a memorandum clarifying the period of authorized stay for P-1 nonimmigrant holders. According to the memorandum, P-1 individual athletes are not subject to a lifetime admission of 10 years on the visa. They will be permitted to file an extension of five years after being admitted in P-1 status for 10 years. However, they must leave the United States after the 10 years in order to file for an extension of five years on their P-1 visa.
The Immigration Service believes that this interpretation is in line with congressional intent in the Immigration and Nationality Act.