USCIS Advises Employers and Agents Petitioning P Visas P1-A and P-1S Differences

USCIS has updated the Adjudicator's Field Manual (AFM) to emphasize that, under current regulations, the periods of initial authorized stay are different for individual athletes (P-1A) and their essential support personnel (P-1S). The P-1S classification is for "Essential Support Personnel" who are an integral part of the performance of a P-1 nonimmigrant, and who perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker.

Under existing DHS regulations, P-1A individual athletes have an initial period of authorized stay of up to five years, while their P-1S essential support personnel have an initial authorized stay limited to the period of time necessary to complete the event, but not to exceed one year. The AFM update ensures that USCIS officers will apply the initial authorized stay for P-1S essential support personnel consistently.

Additionally, and consistent with DHS regulations, USCIS may authorize extension of stay petitions for P-1S essential support personnel of P-1A individual athletes for a period necessary to complete the event, not to exceed five years, for a total period of stay not to exceed 10 years.

Updating the 2009 Memorandum that Clarified Requirements for Agents Filing as Petitioners for O and P Visas.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued guidance in 2009 to clarify for performing arts associations and their members the regulatory requirements for agents who file as petitioners for the O and P visa classification.

O Visas and P visas apply to non-immigrants with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, or in the motion picture and television field. O and P petitions may only be filed by a U.S. employer, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent.

USCIS had received numerous inquiries and filings involving petitions that name multiple employers, but are filed by one of those employers on behalf of the other employers. USCIS does not consider such filings to be permissible under the regulations where the petitioner does not establish that it is "in business" as an agent.