I am a trainer for an athlete who is planning to travel to the U.S. on a P-1A visa for athletes. Do I need a special visa to travel with him?

As immigration attorneys at Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C., we help foreign coaches and trainers obtain visas to accompany their athletes, who will be competing in the United States. As a trainer, you may be considered part of the athlete’s essential support personnel and qualify for a P1-S visa. These individuals include coaches, trainers, referees, scouts, and other team officials who are necessary to the performance of the traveling athlete. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows support personnel to travel with a P-1 athlete as long as:

  • The individual is an integral part of the P-1 athlete’s player performance
  • The individual performs support services that cannot be easily performed by a U.S. worker

In order to obtain a P1-S visa for coaches and trainers, your athlete’s employer must file a Form I-129 for support personnel on your behalf, including the following documents:

  • A copy of the written contract between the employer and the support person outlining the nature of employment and essential services provided
  • A statement that clearly describes the support person’s necessary skills and essential nature, including how the support person has provided essential benefits in the past and his current level of experience with the P-1 athlete or team
  • A written consultation or evaluation from an appropriate labor organization that has demonstrated expertise in the support person’s specialty

If you are granted a P1-S visa, you may stay in the U.S. for up to one year in order to assist your athlete or team in a U.S. performance or competition. Extensions may be granted in yearly increments, but the maximum stay under this visa is limited to 10 years.