Queen City Immigration Law August 3, 2018
222 S. Church St
Charlotte, NC 28205
QUEEN CITY IMMIGRATION LAW’S COMBAT SPORTS PRACTICE TO SERVICE PERMANENT RESIDENT APPLICATIONS FOR FIGHTERS AROUND THE WORLD
CHARLOTTE, NC – Queen City Immigration Law (QCI Law) Combat Sports Practice, is a Charlotte, North Carolina-based full-service immigration law firm that focuses on the strategic needs of combat sports athletes and professionals all over the world. Our firm specializes in purposeful, intelligent and thorough representation in P and O visa categories for athletes, trainers, and coaches. We also advocate for combat sports business professionals with employment and investment based visa solutions. QCI Law is pleased to announce an initiative to service Permanent Legal Residence (“Green Card”) Applications for combat sports athletes.
Promoters from around the country have contacted QCI Law to find out how their boxer, mixed martial artist, jiu jitsu practitioner, and other fighting athletes can obtain Permanent Legal Residence (“Green Card”) through their profession. It is no secret that these applications are difficult to get approved and a lot of information is required to be successful. EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 applications often do not adequately articulate both the industry of the sport and the merits of every achievement accomplished the athlete. Successful petitions also require a lot of proof from credible sources. It pays dividends to engage an immigration lawyer that understands the combat sports industry, has contacts within the industry, and also the ability to tell the athlete’s story to obtain Permanent Legal Resident status.
There are two paths for a fighter or combat sports athlete to obtain a Permanent Legal Residence (“Green Card”) through their profession:
EB-1 also known as the Estien Visa
Self-Sponsorship - does not require sponsorship from an employer
High Bar - must prove extraordinary abilities
Universal Employment Authorization during the process
8 months for approval of EB-1 status
6 months to obtain Permanent Legal Residence (“Green Card”)
EB-2 or EB-3 Foreign Immigrant Skilled Worker Visa
Requires a labor certification
Promotion must sponsor the athlete
The position must be advertised
Lower Bar - must match job description for an employer
Requires job offer
Lengthy application process - can take about two years
Requirements and Process for EB-1 Visa
The appropriate EB-1 visa for a fighter is the EB1A visa for aliens that have extraordinary abilities. The god news is that it does not require a labor certification which requires sign off from the Department of Labor and for the position to be advertised to the public. Since the EB-1 does not require a labor certification, the timing is much shorter than both EB-2 and EB-3 visas. The first part of the process which involves getting approved as an alien with extraordinary abilities takes about 7-8 months for USCIS to process and approve. Once this portion is approved, the fighter will receive their work authorization while the Permanent Legal Residence (“Green Card”) portion of the application is adjudicated. This process can take another 6-8 months. Once complete, the fighter will be a Green Card holder.
STANDARD FOR EB-1
An EB-1 Petition requires that the fighter has either one a major international award or meet at least three of the ten specific regulatory criteria areas. In addition, the fighter must show that they have risen to the very top of their profession with national or critical acclaim. Unfortunately, none of these requirements are clear cut.
A major award in itself may qualify a fighter for the EB1, however, this is very rare. A smart petitioner will also include other information to satisfy other EB-1 criteria along with the award to support approval through meeting the other categories. USCIS determines the merit of the prize or award by the number of previous awardees and how widespread the competition is for the award. They will also look at how much media and world acclaim the award receives.
Examples of acceptable awards include:
*Athlete of the year awards from major publications
If the fighter does not have a major award, then they must prove that they qualify for at least three of the ten regulatory criteria areas and demonstrate that the individual has “risen to the very top of the endeavor with national or international acclaim.” According to the controlling case, Kazarian v. USCIS, the adjudicating officer must first determine if three of the regulatory criteria were met by the fighter. For this reason, we advise our clients to pursue as many of the ten regulatory criteria requirements as possible to have the best chance of meeting three. Only after this determination, that when the adjudicating officer looks to see that the fighter has risen to the very top of the endeavour with national or international acclaim.
The fighter must meet 3 out of the 10 listed criteria below to prove extraordinary ability in the sport:
Evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence
Evidence of membership in associations in the field, which demand outstanding achievement of their members
Evidence of published material about the fighter in professional or major trade publications or other major media
Evidence of judging the work of others, either individually or on a panel
Evidence of original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field
Evidence of authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media
Evidence that work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases
Evidence of performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations
Evidence of high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field
Evidence of commercial successes in the performing arts
QCI Law’s Combat Sports Group is extremely thorough when it comes to putting together evidence for our clients EB-1 petitions. These petitions involve telling a story for our clients. The adjudicating officer is most likely not an expert in combat sports, so every bit of evidence requires clear articulation to USCIS to help the adjudicating officer understand and appreciate the significance of the evidence presented to them. This is where many petitions fail.
Steps our practice group goes to for our clients include but are not limited to:
Outlining the history and pedigree of the athletes training from amateur to pro
Obtaining letters of support and descriptions from training facilities
Forming history line and significance descriptions of the fighter’s major victories
Forming a strong foundation to articulate the prestige of every championship obtained
Leveraging strong relationship with sanctioning bodies and athletic commissions to obtain letters of support
Leveraging strong relationships with applicable media to obtain letters of support
Leveraging strong relationships with other athletes, business persons, and industry influencers in the sport
Requirements and Process of EB-2 and EB-3
EB-2 immigrant preference classification is for individuals who have “exceptional ability" in the sciences, arts, or business (the government has interpreted this to include athletics); and “EB-3 classification is for individuals who qualify for permanent employment in positions requiring professionals that possess a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree in a field directly related to the prospective employment - or “skilled workers" who possess at least two years of employment experience or related training which to athletes.
This option typically requires the fighter to have college degrees in addition to being an accomplished athlete. The degree is typically at the Masters level from a U.S. university or foreign equivalent. The petition must include official academic record showing receipt of the degree and also letters from employers showing experience in the field. These requirements might not be appropriate for most fighters but can be a great fit for others. For example, in Russia, it is not uncommon to have a Masters of Sports Degree from a University in addition to an outstanding record in the competition. The EB-2 process can be advantageous over the EB-3 because there are limited amount of people that are qualify which is helpful during the Labor Certification process. Both EB-2 and EB-3 petitions require that the position is advertised to the public before hiring the foreign worker.
In addition, the adjudicating officer will use a seven-point regulatory qualification system to determine eligibility for the visa.
Official academic record proving successful completion of degree from a college, university or other institution of learning relating to the applicant’s chosen field.
Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in the applicant’s chosen profession.
A license or certification to practice the chosen profession.
Evidence of a salary demonstrating exceptional ability.
Membership in a professional association.
Recognition from government entities, or professional organizations for contributions made to the applicant’s chosen field.
Other evidence of eligibility is acceptable.
EB-3 employees are professionals, skilled workers, and other workers with at least two years of experience as skilled workers, professionals with a baccalaureate degree, and others with less than two years’ experience, such as an unskilled worker who can perform labor for which qualified workers are not available in the United States. This is appropriate for fighters who do not have the academic credentials to support the EB-2 visa.
The difficult part about the EB-3 process is that the employer will have to show that there are no available, qualified, and willing US workers for the position. The employer will also have to demonstrate that they have the financial ability to support the fighter.
Labor Certification Process
The most difficult part of the EB-2 or EB-3 process is the labor certification which must be performed with special care and attention. The purpose of this process is to prove that the employer cannot find available, qualified, and willing U.S. workers for the position. Adjusting qualifications for the position is where there is room for an attorney to help the EB-2 or EB-3 be successful. The job description and requirements for a job is tailored to match the skills and experience of your target employee.
The labor certification process is facilitated through the U.S Department of Labor (DOL).The U.S employer must prove that they will not discriminate against the foreign worker by promising to pay the prevailing wage. This process takes about 6 months to adjudicate, and the EB-2 or EB-3 process cannot continue until the certification is approved.
EB Application Process
The employer may file for the EB-2 or EB-3 Visa after obtaining a Labor Certification from the Department of Labor. The employer will need to be transparent during the process and submit financial documents to support the petition such as financial statements, audits, and tax returns. USCIS wants to know that the petitioner can support the salary for the fighter. QCI Law also helps explain to USCIS that compensation often from purses in the combat sports industry. Upon success, the National Visa Center will mail a case number and invoice ID number to the foreign worker to apply for the visa once there is a visa available. There are quotas for EB-2 and EB-3 visas, so depending on the country and the timing, a visa may take six months to a few years.
The fighter will also have to be transparent during the application process, and USCIS will require documentation from the fighter in the petition. The necessary documentation includes medical records, vaccine documents, list of achievements, resume, and criminal history.
QCI Law’s Combat Sports Group is extremely thorough when it comes to navigating EB-2 and EB-3 process. The labor certification process must be carefully tailored for prevailing wage, job description, and other details to make sure that the foreign fighter is uniquely qualified for the position.
Steps are practice group goes to for our clients include but are not limited to:
Qualifying the promotion for eligibility of sponsoring a fighter
Researching appropriate wages for the Department of Labor
Researching best job category in the employer’s area
Gauging the likelihood that there are domestic workers in the employer’s location
Tailoring the job description and qualifications to match the foreign worker’s skill set
Checking the country and timing to determine when the visa will be available