Wednesday, September 23, 2015

NFL Player Faces Delay Over Failure to File P-1A Transfer Petition

While sports like soccer (football), basketball and baseball are replete with foreign players, American football features relatively few foreign national players. However, the emerging trend is for increased foreign participation in American football. The case of New Zealander Paul Lasike presents an interesting example of this trend. Lasike was recruited from New Zealand as a future All-American rugby player at Brigham Young Univeristy in Utah.  His athletic prowess caught the attention of BYU football coaches, who convinced him to switch to football for his remaining 3 years of college. Lasike subsequently enjoyed a successful career in college football and was named to the College Sports Madness All-Independent Third Team his senior year.

After his graduation, the Arizona Cardinals initially picked up Lasike as a free agent full-back, and employed him on the basis of a P-1A visa. This season, he has been signed by the Chicago Bears as a member of the practice squad. Unfortunately, the trade has run into visa trouble:

It’s one thing to have a transaction held up by the league office.

But for the Bears, the State Department is keeping them from filling their practice squad at the moment.

Apparently, the Bears may not have been aware of the rule that an NFL team acquiring a player from another team typically needs to file a new P-1A petition with USCIS to reflect the player transfer. The rule is that a player in P-1A visa status can play for a new team based on the existing P-1A for up to 30 days. During that time, the new team must file a P-1A transfer. While the transfer petition is pending, the player can play for the new team for up to 240 days beyond the earlier work authorization.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Undercard Roiled by Visa Processing Delay

The May 2, 2015 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather has captured the imagination of the general public for a number of reasons.  Those reasons include the contrast in personality and background for two of the best boxers in recent memory.

While much of the focus will be on this main event, the behind-the-scene wranglings for the fight's undercard reveal the negative impact that visa processing can have on sports events.

Managers for the fight had reportedly been attempting to bring four top-level Filipino boxers to serve as the undercard (presumably to play up the U.S. v. Philippines angle).  The four fighters are IBF World Youth super flyweight champion Aston Palicte, WBO Asia Pacific bantamweight champion Marlon Tapales, super flyweight Drian “Gintong Kamao” Francisco, and IBF Asia Pacific super lightweight champion Adonis Cabalquinto. 

The four boxers were reported to have an interview at the US Embassy in Manila on Tuesday [April 21, 2015], with the hopes of getting the visa in time for the fight.

At this time, the undercard has been finalized and none of the Filipino fighters are listed, which raises the strong likelihood that visa processing delays have precluded their inclusion in the marquee event. reports:
[T]hey did not get their P1 visas on time even though the visa process was expedited by our lawyers, so we took them off the card as the safety of the fighters are a major concern and there was not enough time for them to get acclimatized and travel.  
Despite the availability of premium processing and the ostensibly relaxed standard for P1 visa athletes, this incident highlights the difficulties faced by athletes and promoters in navigating U.S. immigration law.