Friday, August 18, 2017

Athletes Like Ray Beltran Literally Fight to Stay in the US

A recent story in Yahoo Sports highlights the visa issues facing Mexican-born lightweight boxer Ray Beltran, who is currently in the United States on P-1 status.  He has had a distinguished career thus far, enjoying a record of  33-7-1 with 21 knockouts.  Beltran was the primary sparring partner for Manny Pacquiao and fought for the world title two times.  He has been ranked No. 2 by the WBC, WBO and IBF and No. 6 by the IBF.
Beltran now has a P1 visa which, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an athlete qualifies for a P1 if he or she is “coming to the United States to participate in individual event, competition or performance in which you are internationally recognized with a high level of achievement; evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered so that the achievement is renowned, leading or well known in more than one country.”

The article states that Beltran and his immigration attorney are very confident that his record is strong enough to warrant continued stay in P-1 status. 

However, all athletes retire, and those on P-1 status must look towards longer term options to remain in the US. The next logical step in the immigration journey of a P-1 athlete is typically the first preference EB-1 visa, which includes an allocation for those showing extraodinary ability in athletics.  The standards for acquiring an EB-1 immigrant visa are higher than for P-1 nonimmigrant visas.  The upshot is that a P-1 athlete facing only moderate success will face challenges in staying in the United States permanently.

The heightened standard for EB-1 immigrant visas requires P-1 athletes to maintain a high level of success.  As a result, athletes like Beltran feel continued pressure to keep winning.  Losing can be painful for any athlete, but that pain is compounded in cases where a string of defeats can threaten the loss of immigration status. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Immigration Problems for Oklahoma City Thunder Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter, the 25 year old center for the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, has been in hot water with Turkish authorities as of late.  Kanter was born in Switzerland and until recently, held a Turkish passport.

Kanter has been a thorn in the side of the Turkish regime for some time now, largely because of his outspoken criticism of Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Kanter has also been a vocal supporter of Turkish opposition leader Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the United States and is in exile for allegedly plotting the overthrow of strongman Erdogan last year.  Apparently, Turkey had enough of Kanter's activism:
According to AFP, a Turkish judge on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Kanter. The 25-year-old is accused of having “membership” in “an armed terrorist organization.”  

Though Kanter is currently in the United States, and the US has an extradition agreement with Turkey, he has little fear of being extradited because American policy generally disfavors the extradition of political dissidents.

The arrest warrant comes on the heels of another recent Turkish provocation: the revocation of Kanter's passport while he was en route from Romania to the United States.  Had Kanter been working for the Thunder on an O-1 or P-1 visa (which is the norm for most foreign basketball players in the NBA), he would have been denied entry to the US and would have faced possible jail time in Turkey for his political activities.

Fortunately for Kanter, he possesses a green card, which allows for reentry to the United States even without a passport.  As a result, he was able to return to the USA despite Turkey's cancellation of his passport.  Turkey's attempt to thwart his travel plans failed.

From the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website:
Lawful Permanent Residents of the U.S. must present a Permanent Resident Card ("Green Card", Form I-551), a Reentry Permit (if gone for more than 1 year), or a Returning Resident Visa (if gone for 2 years or more) to reenter the United States.
U.S. LPRs do not need a passport to enter the United States as per 8 CFR 211.1(a), however, they may need a passport to enter another country. Please contact the embassy of the foreign country you will be traveling to for their requirements. 
This is one (of few) areas where CBP regulations are actually more lax than one might expect.  
Since he was born in Switzerland, Kanter can presumably procure a passport from Switzerland, and continue, unabated, to be a thorn in the side of the Erdogan regime.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Atlanta Hawks Suspend PG Dennis Schroder for Forgetting Visa

The Atlanta Hawks rely heavily on their talented point guard, Dennis Schroder.  So it is somewhat understandable that the organization was upset with the German point guard for failing to report to work on time.

Schroder took a trip back to his native Germany during the NBA All Star Break.  Unfortunately, he left the passport containing his US visa (likely a P-1 or O-1 visa) in Georgia.  As a result, he was not able to return to the US as planned.

League officials attempted to procure an expedited visa appointment at a US consulate in Germany to allow Schroder to procure a new visa in time, but ultimately Schroder was unable to get the visa in time for his scheduled return.  As a result, the Hawks suspended him for one game.

“I have to accept it,” Schröder added. “Coach said something and I listened to him. I’ll focus on the next game. I am disappointed that it happened.”

The incident is a telling reminder that immigration troubles can plague all employees, including multi-millionaire star athletes.