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Green Card and Visa Opportunities for Athletes

Swimmers, wrestlers, weightlifters, boxers, race car drivers, tennis players, and others athletes, who have participated in or won medals in events such as the Olympics, World Cup, World Championships, European championships, National championships, major tournaments, or any other major sporting event, may qualify for an EB1 green card, P-1 visa, or an O-1A nonimmigrant visa.

Eb1 green cards and O-1A visas are reserved for the athletes of extraordinary ability. The majority of athletes who qualify for an EB1 Green Card or O-1A visa, demonstrate their achievements through the following evidence:

  • Prizes or awards they have won in major national or international competitions

  • Articles in major newspapers or magazines about their abilities and achievements

  • Documentation of their membership in associations which demand outstanding achievement of their members, such as their club team or their national team and

  • Documentation of their leading or critical role in a distinguished organization, such as their club team or national team, and how their individual abilities played a leading or critical role in the team’s success.

Although the eligibility criteria for O-1 and EB-1 are similar, they are not interchangeable. The requirements for an EB-1 green card are more intensive than an O-1. EB1 Green card is filed by the applicant without U.S. employer or sponsor, and does not require job offer, while O-1A is a temporary nonimmigrant visa, which requires having a U.S. sponsor or an agent, who may petition on the athlete's behalf. O-1A Visa additionally requires the itinerary of specific competitions or events and a consultation letter from the appropriate peer group or labor union.

The P-1A classification applies to athletes who are coming temporarily to the United States for the purpose of performing at specific athletic competitions. P-1 Visa is available for:

  • Internationally Recognized Individual Athletes

  • Internationally Recognized Athletic Teams

  • Professional Athletes

  • An amateur athlete or coach, who is part of a team or franchise that is located in the United States and a member of a foreign league or association.

  • Theatrical Ice Skaters.

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