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Can I travel under Visa Waiver Program or do I need P1 Athlete Visa?

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Filed: Country: Ireland

Hi guys,

I am from Ireland and just one question which hopefully somebody knows the answer to. I was on the phone the US embassy in Dublin but they said I need to send them an email and I won't have an answer in time to meet my deadline for making my decision.

Do I need a P1 visa for internationally recognized athletes or can I travel to the US on the Visa Waiver Program?

I will be cycling with a professional cycling team next year. It is an American based team. I will only be over in the US for a trip of <90 days at the start of the year. The rest of the year I will be based in Europe and will return home Ireland for the winter. I will be paid a monthly salary by the team.

I was looking at this website to see who needs P1 visas and who can travel under the VWP. It says:

Limited Engagements

Foreign athletes and foreign sports teams seeking to enter the US for a limited engagement, such as a promotional event, may be able to enter on the Visa Waiver Program or on a B-1 visa if they meet the following three criteria: 1. The foreign athlete and the foreign sports team have their principal place of business or activity outside the United States; 2. The income of the foreign team and the salary of its players are principally accrued outside the United States; and 3. The foreign-based sports team is a member of an international sports league or the sporting activities involved have an international dimension.

If I am only training and not competing in events would this be considered limited engagement? 1. My principal activity would be outside the US, 2. I would be paid into an Irish bank account by my American employers, 3. The team is internationally recognized and competes in international level events. So as a result of this would I be able to travel under the Visa Waiver Program? Does it depend on whether I am paid into a US or Irish bank account and if I compete in events over there or just train?

On the other hand, I was also looking at this website which says:

a. Temporary Visas for Professional Athletes

Professional athletes can come to the U.S. to participate in tournaments or competitions using a visa waiver (if he or she comes from a visa waiver country) or by using a B-1 Visitor visa.

A professional athlete who is in the U.S. on a visa waiver or B-1 visa cannot earn money in the U.S. other than prize money from tournaments. The professional athlete is expected to have a residence outside the U.S. that he or she will return to after the competition is complete.

This visa is not appropriate if the athlete wants to live in the U.S. full time.

So while I will have a residence outside of the US, I would still be earning money from my salary while I am over there (it could be paid into an Irish bank account but it is still from my employers who are an American company). So looking at this do you think I would actually need a P1 Visa for my trip?

Let me know what you think, thanks in advance!!

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Filed: K-1 Visa Country: Wales

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“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

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Filed: Timeline

Is the source of the income actually US based or Irish based?

As in, is this an American company with operations in Ireland - where the income will come from the Irish branch? Or is it a US company, based in the US, and paying you from the US?

I can't give you a definite answer, but if the latter is true, my best guess is that you'll need a P-1 visa as the income source is US based.

If you need an immediate answer, I would ask on this website. It costs money, but they're actual immigration lawyers and I've had only good experiences with them.

Edited by jaejayC

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Didn't find the answer you were looking for? Ask our VJ Immigration Lawyers.

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