Employment immigration — hockey coach’s petition denied

Sports teams only succeed when they have athletes and coaches who have the right skills, experience and dedication. Many teams in the United States — especially those that compete at an international level — rely on the talent of both citizens as well as foreign nationals. Unfortunately, bringing in coaches and players from other countries can be difficult sometimes. Louisiana hockey fans might even know that one team recently filed suit against the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, claiming that it wrongfully denied a coach’s EB-1 visa. In employment immigration, EB-1 visas are used for those with extraordinary abilities.

An out-of-state hockey team — the Sabres — originally hired its strength and conditioning coach back in 2015. Before moving to the United States to fill the position, he had worked as the strength and conditioning coach for a rugby club in his home country of England. In Oct. 2019, the Sabres filed a permanent residency application on the coach’s behalf. USCIS denied the petition.

In its petition the Sabres demonstrated that the coach was one of the best in his field. USCIS claims that it denied the green card petition because the coach did not qualify as having an extraordinary ability, even though the team’s lawsuit later pointed out he was hired following an international search for the most qualified candidate. The agency apparently based its decision on a lack of unsolicited material, claiming that it had only received solicited letters supporting his abilities.

Living in Louisiana is a goal that many people share, and for some the path to achieving that goal is through employment immigration. Securing the correct visa in a timely manner is not always as easy as it seems, though. However, it can be helpful to take the time to learn as much as possible about the process and which visa one is applying for.