Sports Immigration

Admission and immigration to the U.S. for athletes and coaches can be tricky and are more complex these days of “extreme vetting”.    

The most commonly used visas for coaches and athletes include: 

  • Temporary Visitors (B-1/ B-2 Visa) or authorization via ESTA

Athletes and coaches can enter the U.S. as temporary visitors or as ESTA holders.  However, U.S. immigration laws treat a paid professional athlete as a worker requiring a work visa such as a P-1 or O-1. 

For general business related travel, professional athletes should be able to enter the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa.   Be aware that the term “business” for the B-1/B-2 visa is limited to: contract negotiations, participation in educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars and other legitimate activities of a commercial or professional nature, but not work.  

B-1/B-2 visa holders cannot receive a salary or other remuneration from a U.S. source, other than reimbursement of expenses incurred incidental to the visit or prize money.  

Professional athletes applying for admission as B-1/B-2 are frequently denied a visa at the consulate or admission at the U.S. border.

The denial is often based on perceived immigrant intent and or determination that they are coming to work and need a work visa with proper planning and guidance, this can be avoided. 

  • Internationally Recognized Athlete and Support Personnel or Coaches (P-1)

The P-1 visa is typically the visa of choice for foreign athletes who are internationally recognized and are coming to the U.S. to participate in athletic events of an international caliber.

P-1 athletes need to be sponsored by a U.S. employer or agent.   They may bring their foreign coaches and support personnel if there is a need for their services while in the United States.

  • Person of Extraordinary Ability (O-1)

Foreign athletes and coaches who have risen to the very top of their field and can show sustained international success should consider applying for an O-1 visa.

Coaches who are applying for an O-1 visa should show that their athletes belong to the top of their field.

The O-1 petition requires a sponsoring employer and additional strong evidence, including expert letters, international rankings, and media coverage. 

  • Permanent Residence (Green Card) 

The ultimate goal of many foreign athletes and coaches is to live, work and play in the U.S.   To achieve this goal, you should consider obtaining lawful permanent residence (“green card”). 

Internationally recognized athletes and coaches should consider the “EB-1” path to a green card.  This petition can be filed through a sponsoring employer or as a self-petition.  

The petition must show that you plan to continue to work in your field of expertise and continue to be at the top of your field.  

If you are married to a U.S. citizen, your spouse could also petition for a green card for you.

Let us help you reach your goals.

  • We have significant experience representing athletes, coaches, sports teams, and associations.  
  • We take the time to learn about the client’s background so that we can prepare a successful application highlighting the uniqueness of the beneficiary. 
  • We have obtained work visas and green cards for a variety of athletes and coaches in the sports of tennis, golf, soccer, and football, among others.  We have worked with a number of sports leagues, businesses, and organizations including the NFL, NASL, and ATP.
  • We use our experience, determination and results-focused energy to build the best case possible for you so that you can continue to focus on your career.

Videos

Flowcharts Specific for Athletes

FAQ

Testimonials & Reviews

I-140 Petition, Schedule A, and Adjustment of Status/“Green Card” Approval with Priority Date Recapturing for a Filipino Nurse and her Husband

Dearest Attorney Carson,

Thank you so much for everything you have done. Thank you for taking time to call and share the great news. I honor and value you for your genuine concern and for personally having a relationship with your clients. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. More than words can say, I thank you deeply. Thank you most especially for helping not only me and my husband, but also my family back home in the Philippines who depend on me. You don’t know how much that means to them. Thank you for making a difference in our lives. Thank you for giving hope and being an inspiration. May God bless you abundantly and your family!

I-130 Petition, Marriage-Based, Approval and “Green Card” Processing through the National Visa Center with a successful interview at the London Embassy for a U.K. National

Good Morning,

Greetings – I arrived on Thursday in the late evening to a relatively quiet immigration hall. I was advised to line up in the visitor’s line and waited around 5 minutes. I handed my packet and passport over to a very friendly immigration officer. No real questioning beyond the usual. He said congratulations and passed me over to secondary immigration. I waited perhaps another 5 minutes and then a lady came and took my fingerprints and a signature for my green card. Was told to sit back down and wait. 10 Minutes later I was called over to an office. It was explained that I was being issued a 2 year entry and that I will have to file a form 90 days before it expires to have the restrictions removed. And that was it. Really painless! Thank you so much for all your help, we couldn’t have done this without you. I still haven’t really processed the fact I am here!

I-129 O-1A Petition, Extraordinary Ability Status, Approval for Physician/Lead Researcher from Brazil

That’s really great news! I can’t thank you all enough for all your hard work. It’s been an immense pleasure to work with you. I’m looking forward to hearing more from you.

I-140 Petition, Outstanding Professor and Researcher, and Adjustment of Status/“Green Card” Approval for Romanian Physicist

Hi Giselle,

That’s such great news. Now I can plan my summer vacation. I remember the “let’s start the process” email from you that was sent right after the Independence Day Weekend. I ALREADY GOT THE GREEN CARD by mail yesterday (in about ten and a half months) right before the Memorial Day weekend. The green card is the only document I will need from now on (besides my passport) to reenter the U.S. I’ll travel to Romania this summer. I couldn’t help but ‘turning back time’ almost 12 years when a very young, former high-school teacher arrived in the U.S., with only $400 in his pocket, but with hope, dreams, academic skills and potential and determination to succeed: I have to say that I am pleased and very grateful for how things turned out so far. Thank you so very much for your team’s outstanding work and support with this pivotal “green card” matter!

I-130 Petition, Marriage-Based, and Adjustment of Status/”Green Card” approval for Husband, Wife and Step-Child from Colombia. Wife was a student in F-1 Status Prior to Marriage to U.S. Citizen

Dear Giselle and Marks Gray Team,

Our family would like to thank you for all your AMAZING work on our case and the detailed effort you put in every day. We are thrilled to be permanent residents of this wonderful country. Thank you and GRACIAS from the bottom of our hearts!

I-140 Petition Approval for Indian Software Engineer whose Prior I-140 Petition had been Withdrawn by Employer and Beneficiary had little Time left in H-1B Status

Good evening! Thanks so much Giselle! This approval was only possible with your amazing knowledge and strategic approach, together with your paralegal team’s tactical methods. Because of you, the petition was submitted in a perfect and timely manner, and it secured USCIS’ approval. Looking forward to working with you and your team on an H-1B/H-4 3-year extension. Have a nice weekend!

I-130 Petition, Marriage-Based, Approval and “Green Card” Processing through the National Visa Center with a successful interview in Ciudad Juarez for husband who is a Mexican National

Giselle & Team, Thanks You so much for all of your hard work to make our Dreams Come True. We are extremely grateful! Love

I-129 H-1B Petition Approval for Computer Analyst from China followed by successful PERM, I-140 and Adjustment of Status/”Green Card” approval

We will forever be grateful for all you’ve done for us. Thank you Giselle and Thyra

Successful immigration process from TN nonimmigrant status to “green card” through I-130 Petition, Marriage-Based, and Adjustment of Status/”Green Card” for Wife from Canada to U.S. Citizenship

Dear Giselle – Thank you for your personal approach and responsiveness. We were delighted to have worked with you and recommend your services to others. We are also thankful that another lawyer referred us to you.

I-601, Extreme Hardship Waiver, approval for United Kingdom national married to United States Citizen

We are just beyond happy and cannot thank you enough. We never would have won this case without you. I was also shocked at the short timeframe of the approval. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we may not know anything for another year. We will give you the highest recommendations.

I-129, E-2 Petition, Investor Visa Status, from small business owner from Colombia

The Marks Gray immigration team is excellent. I found them to be knowledgeable, accessible and personally invested in the successful and prompt approval of my case. Because of their work, I am living my dream of running my own business in the U.S. I would definitely recommend them to others.

N-400, Application resulting in successful naturalization of French National

Giselle and Thyra, her immigration specialist, provide excellent service. I was very happy to work with them. I am a proud American citizen because of their help.

Successful immigration process from TN nurse status to “green card” through I-130 Petition, Marriage-Based, and Adjustment of Status/”Green Card” for Wife from Canada to U.S. Citizenship

From the very first visit to Marks Gray, I felt secure and trusting. You were there when I needed someone to take charge and to guide me. Your warm and kind approach compliment your professional and prompt immigration services. Thank you for everything.