When you were in high school, it was common for talented athletic students to receive praise. Your teachers often view them as people with immense potential to reach far in life. That carries over to college where a varsity student can get in with minimal attention to grades. The logic behind it is that they spend their time training and perfecting their skills for their sport. Hence, some considerations and exceptions are made for talented athletes.
Athletes are given opportunities for their amazing physical abilities, like traveling the world. It’s also common for other countries to recruit foreign athletes to increase their chances of victory. It also reflects well on them to display gifted athletes, sharing the credit for raising such talented individuals.
Given how popular sports are worldwide, talented athletes have the chance to immigrate and play for other countries. This is where immigration lawyers would be a big help because getting a visa can be complicated. Choosing the right visa to apply for and understanding the requirements can be daunting as well. However, the best immigration lawyers can guide you through the process seamlessly.
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What is a Visa?
A visa is something most people need if they want to enter a foreign country like the US. They need to apply for it through the US embassy or consulate before they depart. The two types of visas are immigrant and non-immigrant visas which we’ll define shortly. Immigration lawyers help you obtain immigrant visas which are difficult to obtain. This type of visa lets you travel to the US and live there permanently, usually a part of the process to get a green card.
The immigrant visa needs to be obtained before you depart for the US and the process is extensive. That’s why immigration lawyers are often necessary so you can obtain one smoothly. The visa holder is usually sponsored by a family member. However, you should keep in mind that the immigrant visa alone isn’t the path to citizenship, but a piece.
The second type is a non-immigrant visa which lets you visit the US for specific reasons. The purpose of your visit can be for work, education, medical reasons, and business trips. This type of visa has a certain amount of time with a departure date. These are only temporary documents that don’t allow you to permanently live in the US.
How Do Immigration Lawyers Help Athletes Gain Visas?
Yearly, amateur and professional athletes and teams from all over the world come to the US to compete. Some attend single events or competitions while others stay for a whole season or longer. When taking care of the visas for those teams, it can be confusing to choose the right type. And it’s even more confusing when it comes to visa requirements without professional guidance.
Luckily, immigration lawyers are masters in the field and can advise individual athletes, teams, and coaches. They can provide legal advice on how to reach your immigration-related goals or through the visa immigration process. They have a deep understanding of how professional sports organizations work.
Lawyers know that they fill their rosters with world-class talents that may change mid-season. They know how challenging it is for those organizations to host international competitions. That’s why they’re very capable of evaluating your situation and advising you on the best course of action.
What Are the Different Kinds of Visas for Immigration?
1. P- 1A Visa for Athletes
The P-1A visa is usually the most appropriate choice for athletes and teams going to the US. They’re expected to stay temporarily for a specific competition so this type of visa isn’t given to just anybody. It’s only given to certain individuals or teams who compete on an international level. It’s not surprising if this is the most commonly handled visa by immigration lawyers as well.
Your US employer needs to file a Form I-129 Petition for Non-immigrant workers. This includes a fee and documents that support their petition. A consultation form is also required from the necessary labor organization when needed. Individual athletes are allowed to remain in the US on a P-1A visa for a maximum of five years. However, athletic teams are only allowed to stay for six months.
2. O-1 Visa for Extraordinary Athletes
The O-1 visa is a temporary visa reserved for people with extraordinary abilities in certain fields. They can specialize in the sciences, business, education, arts, and athletics. It can be issued to athletes coming to the US who will participate in an athletic sport.
For eligibility, the athlete or athletes must be uniquely qualified for it. You’re required to have a residence abroad because the initial issuance of the visa lets you stay for 3 years. After which, you’re allowed to apply for an unlimited number of one-year extensions.
There are derivatives of this visa for the athletes’ family members. For example, employment authorization is granted to the athlete’s spouse or child. It can also be granted to the person accompanying the holder of the visa. If you have further questions about this, we suggest discussing it with your immigration lawyer.
Sports always had a long history of performance and competition in front of huge crowds. And athletes are individuals who have been nurtured since their youth to compete in their chosen sport. They’re valuable talents to schools, universities, and countries because of the renown they bring. If they succeed, the country they’re affiliated with becomes known for raising and sponsoring their growth.
That’s why countries all over the world vie for the best and most talented athletes. Some countries are already well-known for certain sports so the competition to get into their team is tighter. However, the lucky athletes will need to apply for an immigration visa and while that’s worth celebrating, the process isn’t.
The visa immigration process can be daunting for applicants, especially those doing it for the first time. From choosing the type of visa to submitting its requirements, having an immigration lawyer comes in handy. They’ll know exactly what you need and how to get it based on your circumstances. Hence, we recommend consulting an immigration lawyer as soon as possible when you’re about to apply for a visa.
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