Immigration. Travel. Living.

Sports Immigration in the USA

Immigration to America is the dream of many people who want to realize themselves and live with dignity. There are various ways for an athlete to immigrate to the United States, from obtaining the classic P-1 visa to opening a business in the United States. Which method is most optimal for you depends on many factors: your goal, time frame, awards, achievements, finances, and so on.

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Nonimmigrant American Visas for Athletes

Representatives of various sports often enter America on temporary visas and then apply for immigration or green cards. Therefore, now we will consider the available nonimmigrant visas and the criteria for obtaining them.

P-1A ​​visa to the USA

Most often, a P-1A sports visa is issued to the United States to participate in competitions, tournaments, and championships of the international level. To obtain it, you must have high results and achievements that are recognized in more than one country. It can be used not only as a visa to the United States by invitation to the competition but also for employment as a member of a professional team or for coaching in the States.

Individual members can get P-1A for up to 5 years, and it can be extended up to 10 years. For teams, it is necessary to renew the visa every year; in total, it is possible to remain in the status of a P-1A visa holder also up to 10 years. After 5 years of living in America, with high sporting or coaching achievements, it is possible to apply for a green card, which makes it possible to stay in the country as a resident.

But P-1A has certain limitations, for example, it is impossible to apply for it yourself. Your employer, agent, or sponsor in the United States must file a petition (Form I-129) with USCIS to review the case. Only after the approval of the application should you contact the American Consulate / Embassy if you are outside the United States, or the USCIS office if you are in America for an interview with a visa officer.

O1 visa for athletes

O-1 is a work visa for professionals who have received recognition in their field at the national and/or international level. The requirements for an O-1 visa are slightly higher than those for a P-1. A candidate must meet three or more of the following eight requirements:

  • Be awarded national or international awards;
  • To be a member of associations that are accepted into their ranks only because of significant achievements in their field of sports;
  • Have publications about their achievements in professional magazines or newspapers, or other media that are highly famous;
  • Participate in competitions or professional competitions as a member of the jury, judge, or expert;
  • Make a significant contribution to the sports industry;
  • Have author’s articles published by you in magazines or newspapers on professional topics;
  • Prove that you hold an important position in a large and well-known company, club, organization, institution.
  • Receive a high salary compared to other athletes in the same field.

The advantage of O-1 is that there is no annual quota for this visa, which means that an unlimited number of applicants can get it. Another plus: even though this visa is nonimmigrant, often after receiving it, representatives of various sports can apply for an immigrant visa (Green Card) under the EB-1 program for specialists with outstanding abilities.

However, to process O1, you need an employer who will apply to the USCIS Immigration Service. It is also important to competently prepare the case itself, which should prove your right to receive O1 as an athlete with extraordinary abilities. The assistance of a qualified lawyer in preparing the petition will facilitate the entire process and significantly increase the chances of the petition being approved.

O-1, as a rule, is issued for 3 years but can be renewed for a period of up to 1 year an unlimited number of times.

US Immigrant Visas for Athletes

The US green card gives not only the right to permanent residence, but also the opportunity to obtain American citizenship after five years of stay in the States, social privileges, the ability to apply for resident status for next of kin, and much more.

Let’s take a closer look at the options for immigrant visas that allow you to get a green card and go to the United States for sports.

EB-1A for Talented Athletes and Coaches

The EB-1A immigration program is one of the easiest and quickest ways to move to America if you have outstanding talents.

The candidate must demonstrate extraordinary ability and international recognition. If you are a medalist of the Olympic Games, World Championship, or as a coach brought up several of these medalists, then this can serve as proof of high results and recognition. If there are no such awards, then you should not give up, it is enough to prove compliance with 3 or more criteria:

  • Receiving significant and universally recognized national or international awards; Membership in an association, which is accepted only for certain achievements in the sports field;
  • Published articles about you in newspapers, magazines, and other sources;
  • Judging practice in competitions;
  • Proof of the candidate’s contribution of high value to the sport;
  • Authorship of articles on sports topics in their area of ​​specialization in professional publications or other well-known media;
  • Leading position in a professional organization or institution of high reputation;
  • Receiving from their sports activities income or remuneration in another form, significantly higher than the average level in this area.

A significant advantage of the EB-1A is the ability to independently initiate the process. That is, applicants can submit a petition without the support of the American host and attachment to the employer. There are also no limits for this category, which speeds up the waiting process.

More about EB-1A

EB-3 US work visa for athletes

EB-3 allows workers of various skill levels to come to the States for permanent residence. Most often it is received by trainers, instructors, and other professionals to work in the United States. EB-3 is divided into several categories, depending on the requirements for the candidate.

EB-3A: This category includes professional workers who have at least a bachelor’s degree and are applying for work in the United States in their specialty. In addition, it is necessary to prove that future work requires a higher education.

EB-3B: Intermediate level professionals can apply. The immigration of athletes to the United States on EB-3B is possible even without higher education, you only need to have the knowledge and skills to do the job. Work experience of at least 2 years is also required.

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