Knowing how to take advantage of the P Visa through a management perspective can extend a fighter's P Visa authorization for up to 5 years. However, obtaining the full five year authorization for the visa is based on having a well prepared agreement in place that explains to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (‘USCIS”) why five years is necessary. The most common way, and easier way, for fighters and coaches to obtain P Visas is to base their petitions on a bout agreement. This is a great way to obtain a P Visa because the purpose and itinerary is easily comprehended by USCIS and Consular Officers; unfortunately, the trend is that these visas are only being granted for 3 months. Three months is a short amount of time for a fighter that is looking to work in more training and fight multiple bouts while in the United States.
I speak often with managers who desire to bring fighters to the United States for much longer than the 3 months which are standard for P Visas based on bout agreements. For one, it is more economically effective to not have to get a P Visa and arrange for travel every time the fighter has a bout. Second, if a fighter is able to stay in the United States for a longer length of time; they are available to receive training, perhaps work as a trainer between bouts, and promote themselves to fans/sponsors more effectively. In addition, fighters that are already in the United States and in valid P Visa status are much more attractive to promoters looking to fill their fight cards.
The first step of obtaining a P Visas for a fighter that is based on a contractual relationship with manager/agent is to execute an appropriate employment contract. The USCIS will need to be convinced that the petitioner is a valid boxing and/or training organization and that the petitioner is employing the beneficiary (fighter, boxer, coach) for a specific about of time and for a specific purpose. The USCIS will base their basic requirements of the contract on the statute 8 C.F.R. 214.2(p)(3) which states that the contract must include the following elements:
Services to be performed
Hours of work
Working conditions and terms
Any fringe benefits
Many athletic commissions or other regulatory bodies have model or preferred contracts available for manager/boxers. One of these organizations include the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports ("ABC") which oversees every athletic commission in the country. It is important to note that not even their standard model boxing/manager contract includes every feature typically required of the USCIS to approve a P-Visa for an application based on a management employment petition. These contracts can serve as valuable template for the employment contract however a competent attorney that understands both combat sports and immigration law is invaluable to help prepare the employment contract. With that being said, there are few mistakes that will certainly result in a denied P visa application,
Top three reasons visas for fighters are denied:
Not Submitting a Fighter/Boxer/Manager Contract
It is not apparent on the form that you must submit a contract with the application. However, it is on the burden of the petitioner to convince USCIS that a P Visa is appropriate and necessary for the fighter to come to the United States. This means that supporting evidence must be submitted with the application and an employment contract between the fighter and the manager is mandatory for the visa to be approved.
Duration of Employment Contract
Manager Fighter contract must have a specified term length or may face denial of the P Visa. There is a specific part of the application form that asks for this information. If it is not filled out accurately, there is a high likelihood that the fighter/trainer/coach will have their P Visa denied by the USCIS processing center event before having their Consular processing examination.
Failure to include an appropriate response from a labor union
Typically, every application for a P Visa requires a letter from an appropriate labor union that states that the beneficiary athlete’s employment does not interfere with the domestic labor force in a particular industry. The letter from the appropriate association needs to either express an opinion that the labor force is not affected by the athlete's employment or that the organization does not object to the approval of the P Visa. Finding an appropriate organization is not as difficult for boxing but it can be quite difficult for other combat sports that are not as organized as boxing. Your immigration attorney can help with this effort. Note that some labor organizations do charge a fee for the letter.
If you are interested in learning more about the P Visa process or tailoring your employment contracts for P Visa approval, please do not hesitate to contact our combat sports specific practice group lead, Sherrod Seward, at 704-500-2045.