On December 28, 2006, Michael Aytes, associate director of domestic operations at USCIS, issued a memorandum titled, “Creating Opportunities for Minor League Professional, Entertainers, and Teams through Legal Entry Act of 2006 (“COMPETE” Act of 2006) – Admission as P-1 Nonimmigrant.” The COMPETE Act of 2006 expands the P-1 nonimmigrant visa classification to include certain athletes who were formerly admitted as H-2B nonimmigrants.

As described in the memorandum, the following athletes and performers who seek admission for the purpose of performing in a competition or theatrical ice skating production fall under the P-1 nonimmigrant visa classification: 

  • An individual who performs as an athlete, individually or as part of a group, at an internationally recognized level of performance. 
  • A professional athlete employed by: (1) a team that is a member of an association of six or more professional sports teams whose total combined revenues exceed $10,000,000 per year, if the association governs the conduct of its members and regulates the contests and exhibitions in which its member teams regularly engage, or (2) any minor league team that is affiliated with such an association.
  • Individual coaches or athletes performing with teams or franchises located in the United States that are part of an international league or association of 15 or more amateur sports teams if: 1) the foreign league is operating at the highest level of amateur performance in the relevant foreign country, 2) participation in that foreign league renders the players ineligible, whether on temporary or permanent basis, to earn a scholarship or participate in the sport at a college or university in the United States under the rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association; and 3) where a significant number of players who play in the foreign leagues are drafted by major league or minor league affiliates of such sports leagues in the United States. 
  • Amateur or professional ice skaters who perform, individually or as part of a group, in theatrical ice skating productions or tours.

Please note that athlete professionals or amateurs, or coaches, from countries deemed by the Secretary of State as state sponsors of international terrorism are excluded from the COMPETE Act of 2006. These alien athletes or coaches will be subject to clearance procedures developed by the Department of State in conjunction with the DHS and other appropriate U.S. agencies.