Esports are increasingly popular across not just the United States, but the entire world. Louisiana gamers are probably already familiar with the industry, which pits professional video game players against one another in large tournaments. Since esports is a global industry, there are serious considerations when looking at how U.S. immigration law may impact the future of tournaments held in America.
Esports is just one of many industries that heavily relies on foreign talent, and it is feeling the impact of immigration changes made over the past year or so. A very recent policy change went into effect on Sept. 11, 2018, which gets rid of RFEs — Requests for Additional Evidence. RFEs are important for visa applicants, as they give individuals the opportunity to submit additional material that supports their application. Instead, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services now plans to simply deny any requests that it believes does not include enough supporting material. Deference for prior visa approvals during extension considerations is also no longer in practice.
These changes may be worrisome for esports professionals who travel to the U.S. for tournaments. Leagues often wait to announce future tournament dates, so players may not have the necessary information when submitting visa requests. However, rather than give these individuals the opportunity to submit the tournament information as it becomes available, many may be denied. Issues specific to the esports world — such as monetizing Twitch streams — can further complicate things.
Attending an esports tournament in Louisiana or elsewhere in the country might feel impossible with current U.S. immigration law policies, but this is not necessarily so. Most esports professionals can still obtain the proper visas they need to travel to and compete in America. Working with a professional when submitting necessary applications and appeals documents may help some individuals achieve the best possible outcome, especially when they are working on a strict deadline for an upcoming tournament.