Visa Processing Changes Affect International Boxers & Promoters

Are you an important member of the boxing industry who needs to travel far and wide to get to key matchups? Please be aware that recent United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) procedural changes have complicated how international boxers and their promoters can enter the United States. In particular, P-1 visas are seeing extended processing delays and unpredictable petition denials. Since international boxers need their entire teams to succeed — including managers, promoters, and coaches — a single denied P-1 visa petition could be problematic for a larger number of people.

Queen City Immigration Law in Charlotte is currently working with other leading immigration law firms to look for a rapid solution to this growing problem. We are beginning by identifying what appears to be commonly cited issues and building up from there.

So far, we have noticed the following trends:

  • Inconsistency: For whatever reason, the USCIS is clearly exhibiting inconsistent expectations to approve or deny a P-1 visa petition, whether the petition is filed for a bout or promotion. What evidence might be needed to approve for one petitioner may be entirely overlooked in the next person’s petition.
  • Heightened demands: The USCIS has asked many P-1 visa petitioners lately to list exactly where their boxing event will take place and when. This heightened evidential demand is problematic because venues can sometimes change only weeks or less ahead of a bout. Smaller promotions are also being told to “prove” that an international boxer is required for the event’s success. That is to say, the USCIS is asking whether or not a venue’s size justifies bringing in an international boxer, which implies only matchups that reach national headlines can justify a P-1 visa.
  • Consultation criticism: We have noticed that the USCIS is taking a microscope to consultation letters filed alongside P-1 visa petitions. In the past, consultation letters were more of a formality. But now, it seems the USCIS is using the smallest discrepancies in consultation letters to deny a visa.
  • Administrative processing: There is a growing trend of consulate offices not stamping passports for approval, even after an extensive P-visa interview is conducted. The case is then forwarded to the State Department for administrative processing, rather than denying it outright. Attorneys cannot influence an administrative process as they can a denial, so this is actually a worse scenario than an outright denial. Administrative processing can take years in some situations.

How Queen City Immigration Law is Helping

It is inexcusable for the USCIS to shut down P-1 visas without due cause, just for the sake of increasing visa denials. International boxers, their coaches, their promoters, and many more people rely on their athletic careers for their income. Shutting down their visa on a whim means jeopardizing peoples’ wellbeing unduly. Our immigration attorneys are working hard alongside other firms to find a solution.

This is what we are doing so far to help our P-1 visa clients:

  • When we file a P-1 visa petition on behalf of a client, we are providing as much evidence as possible with the filing. We are including far more than should be reasonably necessary, but this is what the USCIS is apparently demanding lately.
  • We have contacted boxing promoters to create a clear record of venues, promotions, events, and matchups.
  • We are working with regulatory bodies to formulate better consultation letters that will stand up to the unusual criticism placed by the USCIS recently.
  • We are taking additional steps upfront to ensure petitions do not get tied up in administrative processing.
  • We are advising athletes to get training-based contracts rather than promotional contracts reliant on actual matchups. Historically, the USCIS has had a higher approval rating for international athlete visas who want to train in the United States. Training contracts should be drafted to approve both training and competition across borders. P-1 visas can be amended, though, if the boxer does not schedule a bout in the U.S. while staying in the country for training. A 30-day grace period will be triggered when an amendment is filed, which may even be used to allow the athlete to fight.

Would you like to know more about filing for a P-1 visa now that the USCIS is changing up its processing methods? We would like to tell you more and help you figure out this tricky immigration situation. Call (704) 741-9002 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. (We speak English, French, Polish, Vietnamese, Spanish, and more.)