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The requirements for an international athletic visa

California promoters who are seeking to bring international athletes into the United States may be interested in the specific visa requirements. Depending on whether the visa is for an individual or a team, the requirements and duration of stay may vary.

P-1A visas allow athletes to work in the country for the purposes of a sporting event or competition. An individual athlete must be internationally recognized for his or her skill in that particular event and have some amount of skill or achievement substantially higher than an ordinary participant in that event. For teams, the team itself must have this international recognition and the event must be one that both requires international attendance and is distinguished from other similar events.

Individual athletes are allowed to stay for as long as they need for the competition or for five years, whichever is shorter. However, this time can be extended up to 10 years. Similarly, a team may stay up to one year to complete the event, renewable for one-year periods. Support personnel that are essential but unable to be replaced by U.S. personnel may also be granted a similar visa. They may initially stay up one year, but the visa is renewable in five-year increments up to a total of 10 years.

The process for petitioning for this and other types of visas for specialty occupations can be complex, involving the filing of certain forms and providing specific documentation. In the case of athletes, if there is a labor organization overseeing that event, this organization must be consulted. An attorney with experience in this field may be able to assist a visa seeker in obtaining such temporary visas. The attorney may also assist with extensions and other services related to employment-based immigration.

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