Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Miguel Angel Sano Successfully Receives a Visa Despite Fraud Concerns

Sports Illustrated reports that heralded Dominican shortstop Miguel Angel Sano has successfully received a visa to play for the Minnesota Twins. The Twins signed Sano to a club-record $3.15 million signing bonus, and his employment was contingent on his successful acquisition of a visa. Although unconfirmed in the article, Sano was almost certainly issued a visa in the P-1 category.

Normally the mere issuance of a P-1 visa does not make news, but it did in this case for two reasons. First, the issuance of a visa turned out to be a potentially expensive condition precedent to Sano's contract. Secondly, the issuance of the visa was in doubt due to commonplace fraud issues among prospective Dominican baseball players.

The Dominican Republic, particularly Sano's hometown in San Pedro de Macoris, has been the epicenter for age and identity fraud. Some players and their handlers cut years off their age in order to increase their market value.
Sano is not immune from suspicion regarding age and identity fraud. His 6'3, 190 pound frame and his advanced skills have called into question whether he is really 16 years old, as is his claim. Despite such concerns, Sano's visa was approved.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

USCIS Clarifies O and P Visa Filing Procedures for Agents

O and P visas apply to non-immigrants with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, or in the motion picture and television field. O and P petitions may only be filed by a U.S. employer, a U.S. agent, or a foreign employer through a U.S. agent. Often, an O or P employee will work for multiple employers during his/her stay in the United States. The relevant regulations allow a bona fide agent to petition on behalf of such a person, as long as an itinerary listing all actual employers is provided. The Service has found that in some cases involving multiple employers for an O or P employee, the first employer will file on behalf of the individual and list the other employer(s) on the itinerary. CIS has clarified that only a company that is “in business” as an agent can do a filing on behalf of multiple employers. This policy statement creates uncertainty as to how a company can prove that it is "in business" as an agent to the satisfaction of a particular USCIS adjudication officer.