Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Competitive Video Gaming Recognized by USCIS as "Athletic Competition" for P-1A Purposes

The P-1A visa allows foreign athletes to come to the United States temporarily to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance.

Until now, the common understanding was that this visa was only available for "traditional" sports like baseball, soccer, track and the like.  However, the USCIS has expressed what seems like a willingness to consider a broad range of competitive activities as "athletic" in nature.

The Service recently issued a P-1A visa to Danny "Shiptur" Le, a Canadian citizen who plays the League of Legends video game.
Last month’s decision, which places e-sports at an equivalent level as those sports played upon a field [] at least in terms of international travel, has been described as a “watershed” moment for the U.S. Competitive Teams in gaming contests.
What remains to be seen is if the approval in this case actually means that online gaming will be considered an eligible athletic category under the P-1A category across the board, or if this approval was merely an anomaly. 

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