Not every immigrant athlete has Senator Chuck Schumer on their side such as Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
In 2014 the New York Senator pulled strings within the USCIS expediting the pitcher’s P Visa application for a prompt arrival at the New York Yankees training camp in February of that year.[i]
More recently, Jung Ho Kang, a South Korean baseball player and recently signed Pittsburgh Pirate, was denied entry to the United States this year because three DUI’s. Now, the Korean ball-player will be missing the 2017 season.[ii]
Ever since the 1990 Immigration Act passed by Congress, the United States has opened its doors to greater numbers of immigrants through various channels of acceptance. One aspect of the Immigration Act of 1990 was the categorization of professional athletes under the “O” and “P” visas.
Flashforward to today’s heightened political climate with a new administration, and old legislation. However, closed off the Trump administration has attempted to be in regard to new immigrants, the number of visa acceptances seems to be on a general upward trend. Just on July 17th, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security has augmented the allotment of H-2B visas by 15,000 workers.[iii]
Despite there being an increase in immigrants to the US, regulations have not changed and processing times are still slow, especially for P-1 Athlete Visas.
The main obstacle agents and employers face is the slow bureaucratic mechanisms through which they must pass to successfully obtain a P-1A visa.
Processing delays can cost up to 6 months which can be devastating for teams and individuals. Timely arrival of players is essential for the success of sports clubs. Requests for information could be the biggest challenge for agents and players. One trigger for a request of information, is a happenstance with the law.
According to The New York Times, [iv] encounters with law enforcement are a primary causal for visa delays for MLB players. If the player does have a history of run-ins with the law, a further explanation will be necessary. USCIS will then request further evidence which will slow down your visa processing time.
Other requests for evidence can be incurred by the USCIS to clarify “international” notoriety of the athlete or team, as well as insurance that the nonimmigrant athlete will be going home after the allotted period of stay. Petitions can also be sent back through mail if forms are not properly completed.
Requests for evidence are one of the primary sources of time delays for P-1 athletes. If MLB prospects, for instance, do not make it on time to camp, they are in danger of losing their chance at making the major leagues.
MLB immigrant athletes are not the only victims plagued by the slow workings of the USCIS. NHL as well as MLS players face these similar constraints, causing unnecessary hardships for teams and rising stars alike.
In other related news, Manchester United player Serge Aurier’s visa was revoked by British border control agents due to encounters with French authorities while playing for PSG.[v] According to the Bleacher Report, Aurier missed a Champions Game at Arsenal as a result. This just shows how navigating through the halls of the visa regulations can be tricky within and without the United States.
Avoiding wait times of up to 6 months is crucial for the success of clients and their agents. The most that can be done by agents filing for petitions is to provide as much evidence as possible to USCIS in their client’s petitions.
Need a P visa in a timely manner? Brian Kenneth Johnson Law Practice will be on your side.
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