O-1 Visas for Sports Professionals

 

Do you possess a record of achievement and have a well-known reputation for being highly talented or skilled as an athlete? Are you an athlete recently hired by a major U.S. sports league or team and need a visa to work or participate in various sports events?  If so, you may qualify for an O-1 Visa for having extraordinary ability in athletics. Read on to find out if this special visa for athletes is the option for you to live your sports dreams in the U.S.! 

 

Overview of the O-1 Visa

 

An O-1 nonimmigrant visa is intended for noncitizens coming to the United States possessing extraordinary abilities. In your case, you possess an extraordinary ability in athletics. You can see our blog post on O-1 visas here

 

Petition Process and Evidentiary Requirements 

 

Applications for O-1 Visas cannot be self-petitioned. Your employer must first submit an I-129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Workers demonstrating that you have met the criteria for an O-1 visa (including demonstration of your extraordinary ability). Upon approval of the I-129 or O-1 Visa petition, you will apply for a visa at the consulate. Or if you are here in the U.S. at the time of filing, you can do a change of status to the O-1 Visa when submitting the I-129 petition. Your employer/ agent cannot file the petition more than a year before you plan to come to the US. That’s why it’s important to begin your application in a timely manner close to 45 days prior to your date of employment. 

 

  • Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in your field 
  • Membership in associations in athletics (which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field)
  • Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers, or other major media about you and your work
  • A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence
  • Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.

 

Benefits of this Visa

 

The primary benefits of the O-1 Visa program are as follows: 

 

  • You can get the visa initially for up to 3 years, and then do unlimited 1-year renewals as long as you maintain the employment, or do a full 3-year renewal application
  • Your attorney or someone other than your employer can act as your U.S. agent to petition for you
  • You can have multiple employers
  • You can also get visas for dependents (spouse and children under 21)
  • O-1 visas have a pathway towards permanent legal residency

 

Why Hire an Immigration Attorney? 

 

The O-1 Visa process can be a very complicated process to navigate through on your own. An immigration attorney can help both you and your employer navigate through the entire process and make sure that your application is completed completely, on time, and without errors. 

 

If you would like to learn more about applying for an O-1 Visa, contact us for an assessment or consultation.

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