Professional athletes can make themselves and the organizations for whom they work millions of dollars throughout the course of their careers. For this reason, the competition to hire the best athletes is fierce, and teams are constantly trying to beat each other to the next superstar. This often leads to a worldwide search for young professional athletes, many of whom are themselves eager to come to the United States for both professional opportunity and financial gain. Unfortunately for teams recruiting from overseas, it is not a simple as offering a new recruit an attractive salary and getting him or her on the next flight to the United States. You need to make sure that the athlete is authorized to live and work here, which generally requires obtaining a specialized athlete visa known as an O-1 visa.
Because of the complicated nature of obtaining this type of visa, it is advisable for both athletes and their employers to speak to an immigration attorney if they are considering trying to get one.
Requirements for an Athlete Visa
O-1 visas are granted to foreign citizens who have demonstrated outstanding abilities in arts, business, sciences, and athletics, as well. Specifically, if you want a talented foreign athlete to come work for your organization in Southern California, you need to apply for an O-1A athlete visa for them. Simply submitting an application is not enough, however, as you also need to include evidentiary support to back up your claims that the athlete has extraordinary ability in their particular sport.
Some examples of evidence that must be included are as follows:
- The itinerary and schedule of the athlete’s intended services for your team
- The contract between you and the athlete for the work to be performed
- Written attestations by peer groups, including coaches or league representatives that speak to the talents of the athlete
Even in the case of an international sports superstar who is paid millions of dollars per season, obtaining an athlete visa can be complex and unexpected complications may arise. Because of the highly scheduled nature of most sporting events, even the slightest delay in obtaining an O-1 visa can cost your organization a significant amount of money. An experienced entertainment industry attorney can help to schedule and complete the application to avoid any errors and to ensure you have plenty of time should any complications arise.
Contact a Skilled Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer Today
Athletes in the United States are among the best and highest paid in the world. Unfortunately for foreign nationals, it is not as simple as getting noticed by the right team scout – you also have to obtain a visa to enter and work in the United States. Similarly, for employers of athletes, there are legal steps that you need to go through before you bring your next star player into the country to work.