There are several options for sports athletes looking to come to the United States and work in their sport. Athletes who do not plan on being in the USA long-term can use visa waivers (VWP) or eb1 green card for sports athletes to enter the country and compete as temporary visitors without a visa, provided they do not receive salary but only prize money from tournaments.
Can EB1 be rejected?
Athletes who are nationally or internationally recognized as being at the top of their sport may be able to qualify for an EB1 Visa as Alien of Extraordinary Ability. This is a permanent residency visa that does not require a job offer, so it can be more appealing to a top athlete than the EB-2 visa category. In order to prove extraordinary ability, evidence should be submitted of having national or international acclaim in the sport (prizes, rankings, records, reviews from expert critics, playing a starring role for a well-known team, etc.), as well as having a significant financial interest in the sport and having invested significantly in equipment, facilities, and training.
Athletes should also consider the EB-2 Immigrant Preference classification and the EB-3 Skilled or Professional worker categories as possible avenues for permanent residency in the United States. The EB-2 category does not explicitly mention athletics, but after some litigation and internal analysis, USCIS currently takes the position that athletes can qualify under this category as well.