Is the athlete is of "extraordinary ability" for a nonimmigrant O-1 visa
O-1 nonimmigrant visas are set aside for individuals of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics. These visas are an option for athletes who are at the very top of their field and can demonstrate this through a record of sustained national or international acclaim. To establish that they meet this standard, athletes must show either that they have won a major international award like an Olympic medal or World Championship title, or provide at least three other types of evidence showing a sustained record of national or international acclaim. This alternative evidence may include evidence of membership in an organization requiring excellence in the athlete's field, evidence that the athlete has judged the work of others, evidence that the athlete has been employed in a critical role in an organization with a distinguished reputation, and evidence that the athlete has commanded a high salary. O-1 status is granted for the time needed to
If not, can the athlete qualify for a P-1 visa as an individual or member of a team?
P-1 visas are for athletic teams or individual athletes who don't meet the O-1 standards. In addition to internationally recognized athletes, it covers professional athletes who are employed by a team that is a member of an association of six or more professional teams whose combined revenues exceed $10,000,000 per year if the association governs the conduct of its members and regulates the contests in which the teams take part. This allows most minor league teams as well as lesser known U.S. professional leagues to employ foreign athletes using P-1 visas. Certain amateur athletes and coaches are also specifically included if they are coming to work for a U.S.-based team that is part of a foreign league of at least 15 amateur sports teams. Amateur ice skaters are also included.
Essential support personnel to athletes may enter on P-1S visas
Athletes traveling to the United States on O-1 or P-1 visas may bring their support personnel, such as coaches or trainers, if such personnel are an integral part of their performance. Once admitted to the United States, essential support personnel may work only for the principal athlete and at the events specified in their visa petition.
An advisory opinion is required for all O and P visa filings
Before filing for an O-1, O-2, P-1, or P-1S visa, the athlete's prospective employer must seek a consultation from the appropriate labor union and get the union's consent to employ the foreign athlete and/or support personnel in the United States. If the union agrees, the employer files Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, and all supporting evidence for the athlete, athletic team, or support personnel with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. On petition approval, the athlete and support personnel must apply to a U.S. consulate for the visa itself. In cases where there is no U.S.-based employer, i.e. an athlete or foreign-based team coming to perform in a series of events, a U.S.-based agent may file the visa petition.
Is an athlete eligible for permanent resident status?
Athletes of extraordinary ability may also be eligible for an EB-1 immigrant visa. Applicants for EB-1 visas do not need a U.S.-based employer as they are allowed to file their own visa petition. However, they must show that they are coming to the United States to work in the area of extraordinary ability. They also must provide significant documentary evidence of their accomplishments. The evidentiary requirements are similar to those for O-1 petitions: either the receipt of a major international award or at least three types of other evidence examples of which are evidence of membership in an organization requiring excellence in the athlete's field, evidence that the athlete has judged the work of others, evidence that the athlete has been employed in a critical role in an organization with a distinguished reputation, and evidence that the athlete has commanded a high salary. Athletes not meeting the EB-1 standard must be sponsored and obtain a labor certification.