Wilner & O'Reilly, APLC - Immigration Attorneys In California And Utah
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Getting The Correct Visa

Last week, the Philippines was deprived of a chance to send representatives to the World Amateur Golf Team Championships in Puerto Rico. The Consul in the Non-immigrant Visa Unit denied their application for a B1/B2 visa, or commonly referred to as "tourist visas". The consul said the RP players failed to convince the consul that their social, family, economic and professional ties were compelling enough to ensure their return to the country. This despite assurances from the National Golf Association of the Philippines that their stay in the United States would be temporary.

Ever wonder how fighters and other athletes and entertainers that hail from the Philippines can come to the United States to compete or perform? The "P" visa is a natural choice.

Thing of the "P" visa in terms of Performer. The Code of Federal Regulations provides that someone who lives in a foreign country, that doesn't intend to abandon his residence, may come to the U.S. to perform services for a sponsor or employer. Not everyone qualifies to perform "services". Instead, one must be an "internationally recognized athlete", either individually or as part of a team, or a member of an "internationally recognized entertainment group." People who are coming to the United States to perform in a culturally unique program also qualify, as to coaches and teachers.

Not everyone can perform at the necessary level nor provide the types of service contemplated in the P category. Instead, one must be coming to the United States in order to "perform at specific athletic competitions" as an individual athlete or as part of a team, at an internationally recognized level or performance. For example, while a fighter seeking entry to the United States to compete in the "King of the Cage" might not qualify as the level of event necessary for qualification, certainly an event sanctioned by the International Boxing Commission and relevant state gaming commissions would be worthy of consideration. Essential support personnel, like "cornermen" qualify for the visa as well.

One need not be an athlete nor coming to the U.S. to engage in sport in order to qualify. As stated above, performers do as well. Therefore, one might be coming to the United States to perform with, or act "as an integral and essential part of the performance of an entertainment group that has been recognized internationally as being outstanding in the discipline."

So how does the sponsor/employer prove the worthiness of the event and its performers? While documenting the case is intense, what is required is on the employer's side of things is rather straightforward. As provided by appropriate regulation, the employer/sponsor must submit: copies of any written contract between the sponsor and the beneficiary and/or a specific summary of any relevant oral agreements concerning employment. The applicants must also submit a detailed explanation of the events and activities, with specific dates as to beginning and end of the same. A specific itinerary is favored by the government. If the profession at issue is a unionized one in the United States, a consultation from a relevant labor organization on the sophistication of the event.

On the performer or athlete's side of things, the regulations are also quite clear. In order to document the level of accomplishments of the foreign national, "affidavits, contracts, awards, and similar documentation must reflect the nature of the alien's achievements". Similarly, affidavits from present or former employers and/or recognized experts in the field of endeavor, should be submitted that document the applicant's extraordinary achievements.

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