Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Major League Soccer Player Cornell Glen Experiences P-1 Consular Delays

Cornell Glen, who plays striker for the San Jose Earthquakes of Major League Soccer (MLS) league, was recently forced to miss MLS matches versus the Los Angeles Galaxy and Sounders FC due to a delay in the consular processing of his P-1 visa in his home country of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Quakes striker was supposed to return to San Jose during the week of June 15, but he needed to get his application for a P-1 visa approved first. The petition was approved in the U.S., but when Glen showed up for his appointment, the staff at the embassy couldn't find his paperwork, forcing to reschedule another appointment.
Although the specifics are unclear, it is questionable whether the embassy actually lost his paperwork. More likely, his P-1 approval needed to be entered into the State Department's Petition Information Management Service (PIMS) database. PIMS is a centralized database accessible to all U.S. consular posts that provides full access to the details of all nonimmigrant visa petitions that have been approved by USCIS. Unfortunately, the current practice at USCIS is not to include a nonimmigrant visa approval (such as for an O-1 or P-1 petition) into the PIMS system automatically, unless the original petition filed with USCIS included a duplicate copy. Where an approval has not been entered into PIMS, consular posts are required to seek verification from the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC), which acts as the intermediary between the USCIS and the Department of State's consulates. Most probably the delay in Glen's visa stamping was due to PIMS verification delays. USCIS has given no good reason why all petition approvals are not automatically entered into PIMS, much to the chagrin of immigration attorneys and visa applicants alike:

"I was getting really frustrated with the visa," said Glen.

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