Immigration for Martial Artists including Jiu-Jitsu, Combat Sambo, and Wrestling Practitioners

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Call 704-500-2075 For a Consultation

There are record numbers of martial artists such as brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, Combat Sambo, and Wrestling athletes who are seeking to come to the United States. With the rise of mixed sports competitions such as mixed martial arts, combat jujitsu, pankration,  and others, there are more opportunities for international combat sports athletes to compete and coach in the United States. This is especially true with the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which is rapidly increasing in popularity and  the number of available competitions such as the IBJJF, Mundials, and Pan American competitions.

Unfortunately, there is an increasing trend for martial artists and combat sports athletes to have their visas denied when applying for the B visitor visas. There are many possible reasons to have a visitor visas denied such as the petitioner not having enough ties back to the the their home country, previous immigration violations, and overstaying on a  previous visa. In addition, for athletes such as brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners, mixed martial artists, boxers, and other combat sports athletes that compete for prize money, there can be denials for getting compensated without proper work authorization. This is pretty easy for immigration officers to find out for sports that are regulated by a state commission such as boxing, mixed martial arts, and professional wrestling. State athletic commissions who regulate these competitions typically post how much each athlete was paid on public forum. USCIS can easily find this information out from the records of the athletic commissions and look and deny the visa.

When coming to the United States on a B visitor visa, the athlete is not permitted to do the following:

  1. receive payment as a referee or official for any tournaments or competitions

  2. receive payments for private lessons

  3. teach or coach at a gym full-time or even as a seminar

  4. compete for monetary or in-kind compensation

Are you receiving payments as a referee for a local jiu-jitsu tournament? Not allowed. Are you teaching seminars at a local jiu-jitsu gym for a seminar fee? Not allowed. Are you giving private training sessions at a local jiu-jitsu gym for cash? Just say NO!

To avoid having this issue happen in the future. It is imperative that these athletes seek a P visa which comes with work authorization for a specific purpose such as competing and coaching.  

 

The P-1 visa can be broadly applied to various classes of entertainers, including fighters, however the actual application can be quite nuanced. The application must include carefully prepared explanations concerning the terms of the employment opportunity, complete with supporting documents in order to be approved. Our attorneys are savvy to include specific information related to the athlete's industry which can include employment contracts,  bout agreements, obtaining the appropriate consultation letters, and circumstances that are unique to combat sports.

 

Below are the steps for obtaining the P visa:

#1 SPONSOR OR AGENT IN THE U.S.  

The P-1 Visa must begin with a Petitioner in the United States that wishes to engage the athlete for either a bout, training, or for management purposes. The petitioner must be one of the following:

1. A U.S. Employer (Promotion or Training Center) - Requires written contract with dates and wages

2. U.S. Sponsoring Organization (A Major Sports League) - Requires written contract with dates and wages

3. U.S. Agent/Manager (A U.S. Person representing a fighter) - Requires written contract with dates, training schedule,  possible performance opportunities, payment arrangements, hours of working, and fringe benefits

4. Foreign Employer through a U.S. Agent - Same as 3. U.S. Agent/Manager but the foreign employer uses a U.S. person as a conduit.

Note Regarding Support Staff - P-1S:  Essential support personnel cannot be included on the P-1 petition filed for principal athletes or members of an athletic team. A separate petition needs to be filed for such qualified essential support personnel seeking a P-1 Essential Support Personnel visa classification

#2 INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION

The individual athlete must be an internationally recognized athlete based on his or her own reputation and achievements as an individual. He or she must demonstrate a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered so that the achievement is renowned, leading or well known in more than one country. For a fighter, this includes official competition record, amateur record, any titles won, media coverage, expert opinions from industry insiders.

#3 WRITTEN CONSULTATION FOR LABOR UNION

With few exceptions, it is mandatory to submit a written consultation from an appropriate labor organization along with the P-1 Petition. A written consultation must come from an authorized official labor organization that represents the athlete's peers in the United States. The written consultation must either be an advisory opinion that the athlete's participation does not affect the local workforce or that the organization has no objection to the the approval of the P-1 visa petition. It is on the burden of the petitioner to establish that an appropriate labor organization does not exist, if that is the case.

#4 PROOF OF FOREIGN RESIDENCE

Each athlete and support personnel must submit evidence that shows they have a permanent residence in a foreign country and no intention of abandoning that residence. Supporting evidence includes home ownership or rental agreements, utility and other bills, ownership of valuable assets,  dependents, and other ties to the foreign country.

#5 ADMISSION INTO THE USA

If the athlete is already in the U.S. on a visa, for example a B-1 Visitor visa, then the petitioner may remain in the U.S. while the P petition is being adjudicated. If the athlete is not in the U.S. while the P petition is being adjudicated, then the application will be processed by an Embassy or Consulate outside the U.S. The athlete will have to retrieve the visa from the Embassy or Consulate before coming to the U.S.

#6 P-4 FOR SPOUSES AND CHILDREN

The P-4 Visa is available to the spouse and unmarried children under 21 of both P-1 Athletes and P-1S Support Personnel. The P-4 Visa is usually limited to the same period of time as the corresponding P-1 or P-1S application. The P-4 Support Personnel are not permitted to accept payment but may attend school or college.

#5 EXTENSIONS AND CHANGES

The original P-1 petition can be authorized for up to 5 years as long as the business or activity that supports the petition continues. After 5 years,  the petition may be extended for up to an additional 5 years for Athletes. The P-1S petition for supporting personnel can be authorized for up to 1 year. After one year, the visa may be extended in increments of one year for up to 10 years. After, completing an extension period for the visa, the athlete or support personnel must return home and obtain the next visa at the consular office.

The P-1 athlete is only supposed to work for the entity that sponsored the P-1 visa petition. In certain circumstances such as a bout, the P-1 athlete may not have to obtain an additional P-1. It is best to consult with an attorney before making decision to compete for another organization while sponsored for a P-1 with another entity such as a manager. If, P-1 makes a substantial change in employment, it is necessary to file a new petition for the new employment arrangement.  

Note: In the case of professional P-1 athletes who are traded from one organization to another, employment authorization for the player will automatically continue for a period of 30 days after acquisition by the new organization, within which time the new organization is expected to file a new P-1 petition. If the new petition is not filed within 30 days, employment authorization will cease. If the new petition is filed within 30 days, the professional athlete shall be deemed to be in valid P-1 status, and employment shall continue to be authorized, until the petition is adjudicated. If the new petition is denied, employment authorization will cease.

#6 GOVERNMENT FEES AND APPLICATION TIMING

The typical P-1 Visa application takes about a month to be processed and costs $460 in Government fees.

There is premium processing available for the P-1 Visa. Premium processing costs an additional $1225 and requires the USCIS to make a decision within 15 business days.

QCI LAW PARTNER SHERROD SEWARD NOMINATED FOR TOP 100 UNDER 40  MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS OF AFRICAN DECENT

Queen City Immigration Law                      

222 S. Church St #100

Charlotte, NC 28205

704-500-2075

info@qcilaw.com


QCI LAW PARTNER SHERROD SEWARD NOMINATED FOR TOP 100 UNDER 40  MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS OF AFRICAN DECENT

CHARLOTTE, NC – Queen City Immigration Law (QCI Law), a Charlotte based full service immigration law firm, is pleased to announce that Partner Sherrod Seward, Esq. is nominated as one of the top 100 Under 40 Most Influential People of African Descent by the United Nations’ International Decade for People of African Descent Organization.

In support of the International Decade for People of African Descent, proclaimed by United Nations’ General Assembly resolution 68/237 and to be observed from 2015 to 2024, the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) identifies high achievers of African descent in public and private sectors from all around the world as a progressive network of relevant actors to join together in the spirit of recognition, justice and development of Africa, it's people on the continent and across it's Diaspora.

“‘I am typically uncomfortable when it comes to receiving recognition” Says Sherrod Seward. “However, this is wonderful news. I’m honored that someone out there understands what we are putting together over at Queen City Immigration Law”

As the emerging market business development leader at Queen City Immigration Law, Sherrod Seward spent much of 2017 educating business owners from the African Diaspora about how to eliminate trade barriers through immigration incentives. Sherrod’s efforts included modering panels, writing articles, and advocating to private and government partners.

Immigration is an underappreciated incentive to global business development, with small to medium sized enterprises. In truth, foreign business partners in emerging markets often do not know of the immigration opportunities available for business people. Queen City Immigration Law will continue advocating for business leaders in emerging markets in 2018 and beyond. If you are interested in finding out more, please contact our office at 704-500-2075 or email info@qcilaw.com.

About Sherrod Seward

Sherrod Seward is an experienced lawyer with a passion for entertainment, investment, and employment-based immigration law and international business in emerging markets. In addition, he has an extensive background in global risk mitigation as a broker with the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The same cultured approach Sherrod brings to Queen City Immigration Law,  he also applies to his extreme love for all things Cleveland and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts including www.combatsportsvisas.com). Sherrod began his legal career at Cleveland State University, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in Cleveland, Ohio and did his undergrad at Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. Since obtaining his Juris Doctor, Sherrod has become more intentional than ever to be an advocate for clients in need of international legal assistance.

P Visas that LAST & P Visa Challenge

Many of the best performers and athletes in the world are not from the United States, but in order for them to work in the US it is some necessary legal steps because the consequences are steep. Also, with proper preparation,  P visa benefits can last for years. 

 Queen City Immigration Law is an immigration based law firm set to help ease the process for you and your athletes. Our job is to take the stress of obtaining a p visa away and allow managers and athletes time to focus on more important things such as obtaining sponsorship, training and winning competitions! 

Our law firm focuses on the strategic needs of artists, actors, performers, and entertainment professionals all over the world. Our firm specializes in purposeful, intelligent and thorough representation in P and O visa categories.  In case you are unfamiliar, P & O visas are necessary for foreign performers and athletes who are being compensated to perform in the United States.

One of the main reasons a P visa can be stressful is the cost for obtaining one. That’s where we want to help the most with our P Visa Challenge.

THE CHALLENGE IS SIMPLE

We challenge our first time clients to try CrowdJustice to raise money for their P visa application and if they are unsuccessful in obtaining their goal, we will service their next two P visa applications at 50% of our legal fees.

What  is CrowdJustice?

CrowdJustice is a crowdfunding platform uniquely tailored for legal projects and is represents valuable tool that will help build a strong set of resources for many of our clients' visa cases.

Follow the steps below to get started today:

1. Register with CrowdJustice: Applying the crowdfunding model to the law is an ideal solution for clients who have a story to tell and need resources to assert their rights and/or seek legal relief. This is especially true for entertainment clients that have a fan base and/or sponsors. Here is the link https://www.crowdjustice.com/get-started/

2. Accept the P Visa Challenge https://www.qcilaw.com/pvisachallenge

We challenge our first-time clients to try CrowdJustice to raise money for their P visa application and if they are unsuccessful in obtaining their goal, we will service their next P visa application at 50% off our legal fees.

All our clients have to do to get started with the QCI Law P Visa Challenge is to visit www.qcilaw.com/pvisachallenge and click accept challenge.

Managers & Promoters: P visas CAN last for years!

http://www.qcilaw.com/entertainment-blog/2017/9/23/getting-the-most-out-of-your-p-visa

Getting the Most out of your P Visa

P Visas are an expensive endeavor for many athletes looking to compete in the United States. Especially up and coming athletes who do not receive a large amount of compensation for their competitions... yet. The reality is also that P Visas are necessary to compete the RIGHT WAY and there are SERIOUS consequences to competing on visitor visas and getting paid.

One often overlooked feature of the P visa is that it can be applied to a employment contract rather than a specific competition. A P visa based on a competition may only last for a couple months but a P visa based on an employment such as a management contract can last up to 5 years.

I speak often with managers who desire to bring athletes to the United States for much longer than the 3 months which are standard for P Visas based on competitions. For one, it is more economically effective to not have to get a P Visa and arrange for travel every time the athlete has a competition. Second, if an athlete  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 competition, and promote themselves to fans/sponsors more effectively. In addition, athletes that are already in the United States and in valid P Visa status are much more attractive to promoters looking to fill their event slots.  

The first step of obtaining a P Visas for an athlete 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 management and/or training organization and that the petitioner is employing the beneficiary (the athlete) 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: 

  1. Services to be performed

  2. Specify wages

  3. Hours of work

  4. Working conditions and terms

  5. Any fringe benefits

Also keep in mind that foreign managers are able to set up businesses in the United States to serve as a U.S. based business to sponsor the Athlete. This structure is very fact specific and must be arranged carefully. We highly suggest contacting our office prior to starting to structure the entity.

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.

QUEEN CITY IMMIGRATION LAW INCLUDES P AND O VISAS APPLICATION SUBMISSIONS IN SERVICES

QUEEN CITY IMMIGRATION LAW INCLUDES P AND O VISAS APPLICATION SUBMISSIONS IN SERVICES

CHARLOTTE, NC – For the past 27 years, P and O visas have given foreigners within the entertainment and athletic industries the opportunity to provide their services within the United States. Now, Queen City Immigration Law (QCIL), a Charlotte based full service immigration law firm, has just announced that they will be expanding their current services to include P and O visa application services.

QCI Law's P Visa Challenge with CrowdJustice

QCI Law's P Visa Challenge with CrowdJustice

For Immediate Release -

Charlotte, NC, USA (September 21, 2017) – Charlotte based Seward Tran LLP d/b/a Queen City Immigration Law (“QCI Law”) is pleased to announce the expansion of its Entertainment Based Visa Practice to more countries and more industries. The purpose of the expansion is to fortify QCI Law’s role as a pivotal resource in the exchange of the World’s greatest human contributions; performance arts, competitive sports, visual arts, and film making.

Our law firm focuses on the strategic needs of artists, actors, performers, and entertainment professionals all over the world. Our firm specializes in purposeful, intelligent and thorough representation in P and O visa categories.  In case you are unfamiliar, P & O visas are necessary for foreign performers and athletes who are being compensated to perform in the United States. Visas also required of many foreign industry professionals such as film directors and camera men.

To celebrate and kick-off the expansion of our Entertainment Based Visa Practice, we are promoting our relationship with CrowdJustice for the QCI P VISA CHALLENGE!

THE CHALLENGE IS SIMPLE

We challenge our first time clients to try CrowdJustice to raise money for their P visa application and if they are unsuccessful obtaining their goal, we will service their next two P visa applications at 50% of our legal fees.

P Visas: 5 Reasons not to avoid a P visa and 4 Ways to Fund them

P Visas: 5 Reasons not to avoid a P visa and 4 Ways to Fund them

The reality is that P Visas are an expensive endeavor for many athletes and coaches looking to compete in the United States. Especially up and coming athletes who do not receive a large amount of compensation for their competitions... yet. The reality is also that P Visas are necessary to compete the RIGHT WAY and there are SERIOUS consequences to competing on visitor visas and getting paid.

Being sensitive to the needs of athletes, our law firm's goal is the make the P Visa work for the athlete in a manner that is thorough and cost effective. In fact, in many cases, our law firm reserves collection of some of the legal fees until the visa is approved.

While many athletes find it tempting to compete on a visitor visa due to the cost of obtaining a P visa, there are serious reasons to do things the right way:

The reality is that P Visas are an expensive endeavor for many athletes and coaches looking to compete in the United States. Especially up and coming athletes who do not receive a large amount of compensation for their competitions... yet. The reality is also that P Visas are necessary to compete the RIGHT WAY and there are SERIOUS consequences to competing on visitor visas and getting paid.

Being sensitive to the needs of athletes, our law firm's goal is the make the P Visa work for the athlete in a manner that is thorough and cost effective. In fact, in many cases, our law firm reserves collection of some of the legal fees until the visa is approved.

While many athletes find it tempting to compete on a visitor visa due to the cost of obtaining a P visa, there are serious reasons to do things the right way:

 

Criminal Waivers for Athletes and Entertainers seeking P Visas

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There is a common misconception that having a criminal past, especially felony convictions, will prevent a potential athletes and entertainers from obtaining a P Visa or an O Visa. While this is absolutely true for a person looking to migrate to the United States, this is not necessarily true for someone looking to come to the United States on a temporary basis without intent to stick around. If you are a fighter or an performer that has made mistakes in the past, it could very well be worth taking the time and expense of applying for a waiver to open up the doors and opportunity to perform your craft in the United States. 

The appropriate manner to obtain relief to inadmissibility for non-immigrant fighters and coaches to the United States is the §212(d)(3) waiver. This waiver applies to both the P visa and O visa categories along with other visas such as J-1 student visas and H-1B work visas. Unlike immigrant visas, the waiver for non-immigrant visas such as P visa and O visa categories have a much less stringent standard for approval. For example, typically only minor marijuana offenses are eligible for waivers for immigrant visas such as when person is seeking to become a legal permanent resident (“Green Card Holder”). In contrast, there are relatively few absolute bars to approval for the §212(d)(3) non-immigrant visa waiver and these absolute bars typically involve political and/or homeland security reasons such as the following:

• planned or planning to commit espionage or sabotage

• planned or planning to commit any unlawful activity

• planned or planning to overthrow the government by force

• foreign policy grounds

• membership in the Nazi Party

• participation in committing genocide

 The standard for approving the §212(d)(3) non-immigrant visa waiver for fighters and coaches is also much more obtainable than an immigrant visa waiver. The catch is that the authority of immigration officials to approve the §212(d)(3) non-immigrant visa waiver for fighters and coaches is a discretionary matter which takes some control out of the applicant's hand. The immigration officer can approve an application as easily as they can deny one and there is no appeal process. The fighter's or coach's only options if their §212(d)(3) non-immigrant waiver is denied is to seek an advisory opinion or simply apply again.

The immigration officer will consider three points when determining whether or not to approve the §212(d)(3) non-immigrant visa waiver for the fighter or coach. The three factors were laid out thirty years ago in the case in the Matter of Hranka in 1978. The factors that are considered by immigration officers when determining whether or not to approve the §212(d)(3) non-immigrant visa waiver are as follows:

  1. the potential risk of harm to society if  the fighter or coach is admitted to the U.S.;

  2. the seriousness of fighter's or coach's criminal or immigration law violation; and

  3. the reason(s) for the fighter of coach seeking entry into the United States.

The third prong of this test refers to having a genuine purpose for coming to the United States. In the case of a boxer, mixed martial artist, or other combat sports athlete, this is achieved with a bout agreement, competition invitation, or employment contract.

The application process concerning where the petitioner must apply for the waiver and what government fees apply depends on the foreign fighter or coach’s citizenship status. If the petitioner is a citizen of country that is visa exempt such as Canada or the United Kingdom, you will have to apply at port of entry or a pre-clearance port. There will be a requirement for petitioner to either mail in application or present the application in person. These entries are also subject to a government fee of $585.00 dollars.

If the petitioner is a citizen of a country that requires a visa to travel to the United States such as Mexico,  then the petitioner will need to apply for the waiver at a consular office. However, the petitioner will not be required to pay the $585.00 filing fee.

If you are interested in pursuing a waiver for yourself or an athlete/entertainer you represent, do not hesitate to contact one of our attorneys for a consultation at 704-500-2075.  

Visa Options for International Managers/Promoters of Athletes and Performers

Visa Options for International Managers/Promoters of Athletes and  Performers

We are pleased to announce the expansion of our services to include a special practice group for sports and entertainment related Visas. Partner, Sherrod Seward, has been involved with combat sports  and the music industry since matriculating in Law School and has made it his mission to be a resource for immigration solutions for both industreis.  Sherrod leads our entertainment and cultural based visa group and has performed research on Mixed Martial Arts broadcasting agreements, performed business development for top regional promotions, and assisted in the management of some of the world’s best fighters.

Typically our entertainment based visa practice deals with two types of visas when it comes to combat sports athletes; the O Visa and the P Visa.