Monday, April 8, 2013

Extraordinary athletes (and others) working in the United States

After I got into a discussion with Mark Wilson about working across borders, I began researching athletes who are citizens of one country but who work in another. This is a common occurrence - there are many members of the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Raptors who are not Canadian, and there are similarly many members of U.S. hockey teams who are not American.

For those athletes who want to work in my country, there are a variety of different visas depending upon the specific circumstances of the athlete. Liebl & Kirkwood's website lists them.

The top category is the O-1 category, which Liebl & Kirkwood describes as being used for athletes of "extraordinary ability." One of the examples that they give is Wayne Gretzky.

Not everyone is Wayne Gretzky, of course, so there are separate categories such as P-1 (any athlete under a major league contract), H-2B (temporary visas for athletes under minor league contracts), B-1 (unsalaried professionals who compete for prize money in a sporting event), and B-2 (amateurs who competing in a sporting event).

These visas are not solely for sports figures. The O-1 visa, for example, is also used for people with extraordinary abilities in education, the sciences, the arts, and other disciplines. Presumably Jonathan Ive has an O-1 visa. Rupert Murdoch does not; because of Federal Communications Commission regulations about majority ownership of television networks, Murdoch became a U.S. citizen in 1985.
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