Friday, October 25, 2019

Cuban Soccer Player Competes in the U.S. On P-1 Athlete Visa

Other the last 6 decades, the sports pages have been littered with stories of Cuban athletes defecting to the United States to participate in sports in this country.  This is an often-dangerous route, and typically involves the athlete turning his/her back on loved ones in Cuba.  Soccer player Luis Paradela has decided to take a more conventional (for non-Cubans) route to playing in the United States: applying for a P-1 visa.

Paradela is believed to be the only Cuban athlete in 60 years to join a U.S. sports team on a visa.

The unusual nature of the visa application was probably not lost on immigration officials, who likely issued a cumbersome Request for Evidence (RFE) in Paradela's case, resulting in longer than the usual 15 day timeframe that applies for petition approval under premium processing (which is how most P-1 petitions are filed).

Typically, an athlete arriving from abroad must wait two or three weeks for visa approval. In Paradela’s case, it took about three months.  

By choosing to pursue a nonimmigrant visa, Paradela remains eligible to compete as part of the Cuban national soccer team.

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