Becoming a professional athlete is not everyone’s cup of tea. It takes a lot of hard work and sheer dedication. An athlete tackles different challenges in their life to become successful in his profession.
Many professional athletes want to travel to the US to participate in a specific league or competition. It requires athletes to establish an appropriate immigration status for themselves. The immigration status of an athlete depends on various factors, which are as below:
Many athletes visit the US to take part in the competition, and if the athlete is young, a B-1 visa is most suitable for them. To fit for a B-1 visa, there are some criteria that an athlete should fulfill:
1) Athletes do not aim to earn money except for the winning prize of the championship.
2) If the athlete is from a country designated in the Visa waiver program, they can travel to the US without applying for a visa.
The initial stay period allowed under a B-1 visa is six months and can get extended for another six months. But the athletes arriving under the visa waiver program cannot stay more than 90 days, with no further extensions. For amateurs, if their stay is less than six months, they can apply for the same B-1 visa.
If the athlete visits the US to work for a US-based league or a team, they can qualify for a P-1A athlete visa. The eligibility criteria for this visa athlete have to fit in one of the following four criteria.
1) They are performing at internationally recognized competitions individually or as a part of a team
2) Athletes are professional or amateur in theatrical sports
3) They are a player of a US team and a member of the foreign association of 15 or more amateur sports teams under the Compete Act
4) They are team members in an association of 6 or more professional teams.
This visa can last for a maximum of 5 years. An athlete can renew the status of the visa if needed.
An O-1 visa has some advantages and is issued to only people who are masters of their field. The o-1 visa offers the benefit of permanent US residency. The demand for this visa is more than a P-1A visa. An athlete has to fulfill three out of the following eight requirements
1) Should have received an excellence award nationally or internationally
2) Participation in judging the work of others in the field
3) Membership in an association that requires outstanding achievement
4) Employment in essential capacity for organizations that have some reputation
5) Authorship in major media outlets
6) Significant contribution in their field
7) History or likelihood of receiving a high pay for the service
8) Publication in a major media outlet that describes their work in the field.
Athletes should choose the correct visa at every career stage according to their profession. Otherwise, the consequences can be devastating and negatively impact your future in the US. Sometimes, athletes get tempting opportunities like off-season coaching, paid appearances in some events, and many more. But before accepting these offers, they should seek advice from their legal team to change their immigration status and then take these opportunities.
Consult the experienced immigration lawyers at Ward K Johnson Law Firm to find out more about your immigration status!