P-1’s and Pennants

As Major League Baseball’s (“MLB”) World Series gets under way, let us take a moment to remember a simpler time before the season started, when the hopes of all 30 MLB teams and fans were at their highest. While fans in the U.S. were dreaming of the season ahead, many foreign-born players were getting ready for the season by working out to lose off-season weight, packing their bags, and standing in lines at consulates around the world to apply for visas.

As the American pastime increasingly becomes the Central American pastime, more and more of our favorite major league players are born outside the U.S. The Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs both field several foreign-born players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and even Brazil.

All foreign workers, including baseball players, require approvals from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State before they can play ball in the U.S.

Many foreign-born players come to the U.S. and apply their skills in P-1 status. The P-1A classification is designed for Internationally Recognized Athletes to come to the United States temporarily to perform as an athlete, individually or as part of a team, at an internationally recognized level of performance.

As with most employment-based classifications, the P-1 is employer specific. The individual MLB teams apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) during the offseason. The teams need to time the filing of the application to ensure it is approved with enough time to allow for the player to attend a visa interview at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy in their home country before the season starts.

While the actual visa interview itself is typically short, the administrative processing surrounding the issuance of the physical visa can delay things significantly, especially if there are criminal or medical issues that require further information. This can mean weeks of waiting for players to join their teammates.

While you may not own a baseball team, your business can acquire its own foreign-born “heavy-hitter” by applying for one of several non-immigrant employment visa categories. The process to sponsor a foreign employee is similar to the P-1 process described above. Select the applicable category, apply to USCIS for approval, and depending on the employee’s country of origin apply to the Department of State for a Visa.

For further information regarding non-immigrant employment options, please visit, http://www.cascadia.com/resources/temporary-immigration/.

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