Athlete Visa and Athlete Green Card Options

For foreign nationals who wish to come to the United States to work or perform as an athlete in sports like football, basketball, hockey, MMA, tennis, golf or in other competitions, there are several different visa and green card options to be found.  Typically, the most difficult part of the process is finding sponsorship but, fortunately for you, I can tell you several ways to get around that issue to perform in the US legally.

Athlete Visa Options

Option 1 – The B1 Visa.  The B1 visa, also known as a business visa, can be used by amateur athletes “competing in an athletic event for which they will receive no payment, other than incidental expenses” and by professional athletes “who receive no salary or payment other than prize money.”  This is clearly not the best option for an athlete who wishes to remain in the US for a longer term as this visa is limited to a six month duration and typically only granted for the exact sporting event period which can be just a couple weeks.  Also, payment is limited to prize money or incidentals.  However, it does not require sponsorship and you do not have to file a petition to USCIS for approval.  The application for a visa can be made at the Embassy and the process is very quick though not always simple to get approved.

Option 2 – The H2B Visa.  The H2B is a seasonal worker visa.  It can be used by athletes to perform in any sport that is seasonal, such as basketball or hockey.  However, for sports that are played year round, this visa type will not be an option.  The H2B visa required a US employer to sponsor the athlete and even more than that, the employer is required test the market for potential employees, run advertisements and promise to pay the “prevailing wage” for the job.  Then the employer must file applications with both the US Department of Labor and USCIS and get approvals from both before a visa application can be made at the Embassy.  Another benefit is that the H2B visa holder can bring his or her spouse or children along with an H4 visa.  The process is slower and cumbersome and you must stay aware of the H2B visa cap which mandates that only 66,000 H2B visas be issued each fiscal year.

Option 3 – The O1 Visa.  The O1 visa is limited to foreign nationals with “extraordinary ability.”  This basically means that this category is reserved for accomplished professional athletes.  Sponsorship is required but it does not need to be from the employer, it can be from a sports agent.  Having a sports agent as a sponsor for your O1 visa is ideal for golf, tennis or other individual sports players that are going to play at multiple different sports events or tournaments.  Unlike the H2B visa, there is no wage requirement and there are no required tests of the labor market.  The employer or agent will file a petition with USCIS and once that is approved, an application for a visa can be made at the Embassy.  A big benefit of this visa type is the athlete can bring a spouse and children along with an O3 visa and you can bring your assistants (multiple) with an O2 visa!

Option 4 – The P1 Visa.  The P1 visa is the only visa type that is specifically designed for athletes.  The athlete does not need to demonstrate extraordinary ability and there is no distinction between amateurs or professionals or individual or groups.  Sponsorship is required but it does not need to be from the employer, it can be from a sports agent.  There is no prevailing wage requirement and no test of the labor market is required.  However, the athlete must be “internationally recognized” and is used to compete at a specific athletic competition.  If you are only competing for prize money, the B1 visa is likely the better option and if you want to remain in the US for a longer period of time then you are likely better off with the H2B visa or O1 visa.

Athlete Green Card Options

Option 1 – PERM Labor Certification + EB3 Green Card.  The PERM labor certification requires a US employer to promise to pay the athlete the prevailing wage and perform a test of the US labor market to see if any minimally qualified US workers are willing and able to take the position, if offered to them.  If no US workers can be located then the green card application can proceed.  The PERM process + the green card process typically takes a couple years if there are no complications or no visa availability issues as listed in the visa bulletin.

Option 2 – EB1 Green Card.  The EB1 requirements mirror the requirements of the O1 visa.  The athlete must be a professional and be significant accomplishments in the sport as to show they are extraordinary.  However, unlike the O1 visa which requires sponsorship by a US employer or agent, the EB1 category has no such requirement.  That means that any foreign athlete can self sponsor and petition for a green card based on their own merits and does not have to rely on anyone else.  When the green card is approved, they are required to continue in their sport but not with any particular employer or agent.  This category is very quick and we have many EB1 cases approved in less than 1 week.

If you would like to explore your athlete visa or athlete green card options, you can contact our office by phone at 305-515-0613, by email at or through this contact form.  Our firm has handled thousands of immigration cases and we can evaluate your case to determine the best path for you.

Nurse Green Card Options for a BSN Holder

I am a registered nurse about to get my BSN this August 2010. I am really concerned about the retrogression and would like to know the steps i need to take to find a sponsor for green card. Thanks

There is still a special category for nurses (Schedule A) which allows a company to sponsor you for a green card without having to undergo labor certification (PERM). However, it is no longer fast tracked and processing times are currently about five years so you will need to maintain your nonimmigrant status if you wish to remain in the US while the green card application is pending. Since you have a BSN, you may qualify for an H1B visa depending on the type of nursing position you are able to find.

PERM Application Where Applicant’s Experience Was Obtained From Sponsoring Employer

I am currently working with an employer in the US on H1b. I have been working in datawarehousing field for the past almost 5 years. Prior to the US, I had 4 years, 5 months experience in the same field before moving to the US.

Now, for EB2 category, I am waiting for my 5 years completion time. Once that is done, I want to apply for a green card with my employer. I wanted to know one thing though, will my experience with my current employer in the US be considered or not? Since the experience has been in Datawarehousing throughout these years, it shouldn’t be a problem, right?

I have heard though, that the current employer experience is not considered. Is that true?

Apart from that, I would require the details and fee involved in the whole process and time frame for EB2.

Experience gained from the sponsoring employer cannot be used unless the job was not substantially comparable to the job offer. Therefore, it is possible to use the experience as we have successfully dealt with this issue before. Current PERM processing times are about two months and EB-2 processing is about 3-5 months.

PERM Based EB-2

I hold MS Finance from USA and have 2 years of work experience from Bangladesh. I am a Bangladeshi passport holder. I have been employed by “A” company as a Consultant and working in the finance industry. My salary is $60,0000 per year.

Am I eligible to apply for Green Card under EB2 category?

You are eligible for EB-2 processing if your job position requires an advanced degree (MS or BA+5) and you hold an advanced degree or a Bachelor’s degree with five years of experience.

PERM Amendment

I filed a PERM application on my own and realized that I made a mistake. Can I go back and correct this mistake?

Unfortunately, amendments cannot be made after the application is submitted. You will need to submit a new application. Depending on when the advertising campaign was performed, it may need to be redone. We’ve helped many clients correct similar problems and can help you prepare a proper PERM application so you can timely obtain your green card.

Filing a Second PERM Labor Certification to Take Advantage of shorter EB2 Wait Times

I am from India and I already got an approved labor certificate and I140 in the EB3 category. My I485 has been pending for three years now and it seems like it will never get approved because of the long waits. I have a job offer from another company and I want to file again to go through the EB2 category. Is this ok? Am I qualified? I only have a BA but I now have 6 years of experience.

Yes, not only is it possible for the new company to refile for you but you should be able to take advantage of your current priority date. This likely means that your priority date will be current once the application is approved and you should be able to obtain your green card without any additional wait for a visa number. Regarding your qualifications, a Bachelor’s degree + 5 years experience is the minimum requirement for an EB2 petition so you are almost certainly qualified.

Lost Labor Certification/PERM

Please help me. My boss lost my labor certificate. He filed my I-140 with a signed copy but apparently that wasn’t good enough and they are asking for the original. What I can do?

Lost labor certifications are not uncommon. The biggest problem is that the Department of Labor will not simply send you another one. They will only send a duplicate directly to USCIS. Normally the procedure is to make a formal request, following proper procedure, to USCIS to request a duplicate for the labor certificate from the DOL. Then once they receive the duplicate, they will send it to the Petitioner and both parties may sign it. By waiting until the last minute, you have violated proper procedure and your case may be denied. Because the PERM approvals are only valid for 180 days now, you may be in the situation where a denial of your I-140 may require you to undergo labor certification all over again. We can assist you in this matter, though it will not be easy.

Nanny Visa Options

There are four options for host families to bring a foreign nanny/domestic worker to assist them in their home.

J1 Visa – Au Pair

The easiest and, by far, most popular option is to bring a nanny as an au pair.  The au pair program utilizes the J1 visa and persons wishes to hire an au pair must do so through an au pair program authorized by the US Department of State.  The prospective au pair are preselected by the program sponsor and the host family must choose the au pair from the offered pool.  Costs are typically between $7,500 to $12,500 which are paid to the au pair program and the host family must also pay the au pair expenses which run between $250 to $450 per week.  The au pairs themselves must undergo training and many types of background checks.  In addition, the au pairs must meet the following requirements:

(1) Are between the ages of 18 and 26;

(2) Are a secondary school graduate, or equivalent;

(3) Are proficient in spoken English;

(4) Are capable of fully participating in the program as evidenced by the satisfactory completion of a physical;

(5) Have been personally interviewed, in English, by an organizational representative who shall prepare a report of the interview which shall be provided to the host family; and

(6) Have successfully passed a background investigation that includes verification of school, three, non-family related personal and employment references, a criminal background check or its recognized equivalent and a personality profile. Such personality profile will be based upon a psychometric test designed to measure differences in characteristics among applicants against those characteristics considered most important to successfully participate in the au pair program.

The au pair may be granted a J1 visa for a duration of 12 months which can later be extended if the host family wishes to continue her services.

H2B Visa – Short Term Help

The H2B visa is generally employed by companies with seasonal or intermittent business such as coastal restaurants, theme parks or other tourist spots.  However, the H2B visa can also be used to bring nannies to the US.  Unlike the au pair program which requires the host family to go through an au pair program, the host family can directly petition for the nanny.  The downside is that the host family must be able to show that there are no available US workers for the job and that the work is temporary in nature.  While the visa may have a three year duration, the work period must be less than 12 months each year.  There are no program fees to be paid but the host family must pay the nanny the prevailing wage as determined by the US Labor Department.

B1 Visa – Accompanying US Travelers

US Citizens, permanent residents and foreign nationals coming to the US for temporary nature may bring domestic help with a B1 visa.  The parties must enter a written employment contract guaranteeing payment of the prevailing wage for an eight hour workday and provide any benefits normally required for US domestic workers in the area of employment.  B1 visa are typically valid for 6 months but may be extended.

PERM Labor Certification – A Permanent Solution

The PERM program offers a permanent solution for the host family that has chosen a nanny who they would like to keep permanently.  Similar to the H2B visa, PERM does not require the host family to go through a sponsoring agency, a prevailing wage must be paid and the host family must be able to show that no US workers are available for the position.  However, the work does not need to be temporary in nature and upon approval of the PERM process, the host family may petition for the nanny to obtain residency so she can enter the country.

In order to qualify as a nanny, the applicant must have two years of experience as a nanny and be offered full time employment as a nanny by the host family.  To qualify as a domestic live-in, the applicant must have one year of experience and the host family must show that the employment is a business necessity.

PERM Processing Times and Alternatives

PERM labor certification processing remains abysmally slow at the the Department of Labor.  The DOL recently touted a6% improvement (11% to 17%) in PERM adjudications without 6 months of filing.  This means that the DOL is now able to issue a decision (approval or denial) in 17% of cases within 6 months.  The vast, vast majority are now taking over two years.  The DOL is taking a very hard line and they are second guessing every decision made in the recruitment process.  Because the current unemployment rate is hovering around 10%, the DOL has decided that most job openings should be filled by US workers.  That is having a very negative impact on foreign workers who are applying for permanent residence.  Therefore, we are recommending that all green card hopefuls try to avoid PERM altogether.

There are 11 common paths to US permanent residency (green card) which do not involve PERM labor certification.

1.  EB1 Extraordinary Ability

2.  EB1 Outstanding Researcher

3.  EB1 Executive Transferee

4.  EB2 National Interest Waiver

5.  EB3 Schedule A Worker

6.  EB4 Religious Worker

7.  EB4 Violence Against Women Act

8.  EB5 Immigrant Investor

9.  Marriage Green Card

10.  Political Asylum

11.  DV Lottery