Sports visas fall under the B visa category and allow foreign national athletes, who are not part of the Visa Waiver Program, to enter the United States to compete or train for a short time. Unlike the P-1 visa, where the athlete must be “internationally recognized” to qualify or the O-1, where the athlete must demonstrate “extraordinary ability,” the B visa category has no such requirement. B visas are for both amateurs and professional athletes.
Sports Visa Eligibility
The B visa category does not require a United States sponsor, petitioner, agent or employer. The foreign citizen athlete must demonstrate to the consulate that he or she:
- Has a residence in a foreign country;
- Has no intention of abandoning the foreign residence;
- Is visiting the United States temporarily for business or pleasure;
- Intends to depart the United States at the expiration of requested stay; and
- Has adequate financial resources to carry out the purpose of the visit.
Types of B Visas
There are two types of B visas. The athlete should apply for the type that accomplishes the purpose of his or her intended visit.
The B1 visa authorizes the athlete to collect prize money in an athletic competition. Other forms of employment are prohibited. The athlete is not allowed to earn a salary. Some sponsorship payments may resemble earnings and the athlete should consult with an experienced sports visa attorney to ensure that he or she is not violating the terms of the B-1 visa.
The B2 visa is intended for athletes who would like to visit the United States to compete in tournaments, participate in summer programs or short term training courses. Employment is prohibited and B2 visa holders cannot accept payment of any kind, including prize money.
Length of Authorized Stay
B1 or B2 visa holders may be admitted for no more than 1 year. B2 visa holders are given an automatic 6 months at entry and may extend their stay as long as the consular officer is satisfied that there is a time limit and there is no intention to remain in the U.S. permanently. B1 visa holders may also be granted extensions of not more than six moths at a time.
Sports Visa Attorney
Cheryl Fletcher is a sports immigration attorney who assists foreign athletes with their visa applications. She will put together a comprehensive application package to improve your chances of getting the visa. Please call 561-507-5772, email: [email protected], or contact us via or contact form.