Thursday, July 22, 2010

USCIS Provides Clarifying Guidance on O petition Validity Period

O-1 visas allow athletes of high caliber to come to the US to perform or participate in specific event(s). The O regulations require submission of a specific itinerary of intended activities while in the US.

There has been a troubling trend of short-dated O approvals where there is some gap in between particular events.

In certain cases where there has been a significant “gap” between events, adjudicators have sometimes concluded that a single petition was filed for separate events rather than a continuous event. In such cases, the petition may have been approved only for a validity period equal to the length of time needed to accomplish what appeared to be the initial specific event rather than the continuous event as represented by the petition.

In issuing this type of shortened approval, adjudicators lose sight of the fact that in many cases, there may be gaps in between specific events that are nevertheless unbroken links in a continuous chain of events relating to the athlete's activities in the US. For instance, there might be travel requirements, a hiatus in the season, injuries, or any number of other reasons for delays in between events.

To its credit, USCIS has issued a memorandum that revises the USCIS AFM (Adjudicator's Field Memorandum) to instruct adjudicators to evaluate the totality of the evidence submitted to determine if the activities described in the itinerary are related in such a way that they would be considered an “event” for purposes of the validity period.

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