P Visas are an expensive endeavor for many athletes looking to compete in the United States. Especially up and coming athletes who do not receive a large amount of compensation for their competitions... yet. The reality is also that P Visas are necessary to compete the RIGHT WAY and there are SERIOUS consequences to competing on visitor visas and getting paid.
One often overlooked feature of the P visa is that it can be applied to a employment contract rather than a specific competition. A P visa based on a competition may only last for a couple months but a P visa based on an employment such as a management contract can last up to 5 years.
I speak often with managers who desire to bring athletes to the United States for much longer than the 3 months which are standard for P Visas based on competitions. For one, it is more economically effective to not have to get a P Visa and arrange for travel every time the athlete has a competition. Second, if an athlete is able to stay in the United States for a longer length of time; they are available to receive training, perhaps work as a trainer between competition, and promote themselves to fans/sponsors more effectively. In addition, athletes that are already in the United States and in valid P Visa status are much more attractive to promoters looking to fill their event slots.
The first step of obtaining a P Visas for an athlete that is based on a contractual relationship with manager/agent is to execute an appropriate employment contract. The USCIS will need to be convinced that the petitioner is a valid management and/or training organization and that the petitioner is employing the beneficiary (the athlete) for a specific about of time and for a specific purpose. The USCIS will base their basic requirements of the contract on the statute 8 C.F.R. 214.2(p)(3) which states that the contract must include the following elements:
Services to be performed
Hours of work
Working conditions and terms
Any fringe benefits
Also keep in mind that foreign managers are able to set up businesses in the United States to serve as a U.S. based business to sponsor the Athlete. This structure is very fact specific and must be arranged carefully. We highly suggest contacting our office prior to starting to structure the entity.
If you are interested in learning more about the P Visa process or tailoring your employment contracts for P Visa approval, please do not hesitate to contact our combat sports specific practice group lead, Sherrod Seward, at 704-500-2045.