Tuesday, June 8, 2010

British Boxer Amir Khan Faces P-1 Difficulties

An important lesson can be learned from British boxing phenom Amir Khan's attempt to secure P-1 visa status in time for his recent WBA junior welterweight title defense against Paulie Malignaggi.
Given what we know of the way these matters are handled under the Patriot Act, the wonder shouldn’t be that it took Amir Khan two weeks to get back into the country, but that he didn’t wind up in Guantanamo instead of at the Madison Square Garden Theatre this weekend.
Khan, a British subject also holding Pakistani citizenship, entered the United States on a visitors visa to begin training for the fight. However, in order to compete in the boxing match against Malignaggi, he needed to acquire P-1 status. The P-1 petition filed on his behalf was approved under consular processing, which meant that he would have to leave the country, acquire a P-1 visa stamp, and re-enter the US.

Khan's promoters thought that he would be able to secure a P-1 visa in a matter of only 2 days at the U.S. consulate in Vancouver, but they were bitterly disappointed. The visa application was delayed for unspecified security reasons, and was approved only after a couple of weeks. Fortunately for Khan, his entire training staff moved to Vancouver to enable him to train for the fight there, while his visa was being processed.

Even after receiving the visa, Khan faced an additional delay of a couple of hours at the port-of-entry while attempting to re-enter the United States.
A number of factors may have contributed to Khan's difficulties:
  • Around this time, the U.S. security apparatus was abuzz due to Faisal Shahzad's attempted car bombing in Times Square;
  • Khan has a common name that could have triggered red flags due to the misdeeds of other(s) with the same name;
  • He has a checkered driving record in Britain, having hit a bicyclist and a pedestrian in separate incidents.
The main lesson to be learned is that visa processing delays are to be expected; one must schedule itineraries with the possibility of delays in mind.

Khan went on to win the fight, making a commendable US debut and keeping the WBA super lightweight title.

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