by Sherrod Seward, Partner | Queen City Immigration Law | 704-500-2075
Combat Sports Visas! Fighters, Managers, Coaches!
We are pleased to announce the expansion of our services to include a special practice group for Combat Sports related Visas. Partner, Sherrod Seward, has been involved with combat sports since matriculating in Law School and has made it his mission to be a resource for the combat sports industry. Sherrod leads our entertainment and cultural based visa group and has performed research on MMA 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.
For persons with extraordinary ability or achievement in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, or extraordinary recognized achievements in the motion picture and television fields, demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim, to work in their field.
To perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete or as a member of an entertainment group. Requires an internationally recognized level of sustained performance. Includes persons providing essential services in support of the visa beneficiary.
However, in the world of combat sports nothing is straight forward and other visa categories can be solutions to immigration issues that occur in the fight business. For example, We were recently presented with a question by a potential client who was a foreign manager of athletes in another country and regularly takes trips to the United States to accompany fighters for bouts. The manager was starting to worry about not being able to obtain B1/B2 visitor visas when accompanying fighters to the United States. Since the manager was not the coach of the particular fighters he traveled with, he was unable to obtain a derivative P-1S visa as support personnel and did not have the background to support an O visa. The primary issue was he traveled so much to the United States on the B Visa that the Unites States consular officers stated that he would need a more permanent visa solution.
After speaking with him and performing some research we were able to identify some options that had various ranges of feasibility. We decided to make a post about our response for the potential benefit of other foreign businessmen in combat sports that need solid visa solutions. To be specific we identified the E1 Treaty Investor Visa, L-1 Intra-Company Transfer Visa, and O Individual with Extraordinary Ability Visa as a long shot.
#1 Option E-1 Treaty Investment Visa
This nonimmigrant classification is for nationals of select countries with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation to be admitted to the United States temporarily for the sole purpose of engaging in international trade in goods, services, international banking, insurance, transportation, tourism, and technology. Certain employees of E-1 Treaty Traders, as long as they have the same nationality as their employer, may also be eligible for this classification. Managers of fighters and other entertainment business personnel can quality for the the E-1 Treaty Investment Visa.
Qualified Treaty Traders and employees are allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years each. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-1 nonimmigrant may be granted. All E-1 nonimmigrants, however, must maintain an intention to depart the United States when their status expires or is terminated. An E-1 nonimmigrant who travels abroad may generally be granted an automatic two-year period of readmission when returning to the United States.
#2 Option L-1 Intra-Company Visa
The next most feasible option is the L-1 Intra-Company Visa. The L-1 Visa is appropriate for management or specially skilled individuals to be sponsored by an affiliated company in the U.S. Note this business model only works if you set up an American Subsidiary for your business.
1. There is no cap on the number of visas issued in this category
2. Free travel to and from the United States
3. No educational requirement for this visa
4. Can obtain visas for spouse and children under 21
5. Initial visa lasts 3 years and can be extended up to 7 years
6. Dual intent, may pursue a green card if you wish
1. Generally supposed to live in the States, but can work abroad if still primarily/systematically working for the entity in the States.
2. If you are getting paid in a different country and avoiding United States income, opening a business for L-1 purposes could affect your ability to avoid income tax in the United States.
1. Your company has to be related to US Company as branch, parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or joint venture.
2. You must have worked for the company for three years and at least one of those years as an executive or manager.
3. Must do business in the United States and the other country for the length of your visa.
It is important to evaluate all options when it comes to your immigration issues, especially when it comes to business. In the case of combat sports professionals, it is not uncommon for the professional to have a background in both arts and business that can be helpful in supporting a variety of visas. Furthermore, business and entertainment related visas all have different features when it comes to length of authorization, flexibility for taking employment opportunities, and the ability to convert to a permanent legal resident.
It is important to us to be a consistent resource to the world’s combat sports community. If you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss your issue with our combat sport immigration practice, do not hesitate to contact us at 704-500-2075.