You can read it everywhere, businesses are having problems recruiting for jobs and now artists, entertainers and athletes are being harmed by the continuous changes to legal immigration policy. The message is clear- “We don’t want you here!” In fact, in February the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) changed its mission statement to remove the words “America’s promise as a nation of immigrants.”
All visa petitions for artists and athletes require a consultation letter from the applicable union that represents the individuals. While this has normally been relatively simple to obtain, USCIS has now begun contacting these organizations and questioning them about the letters they provided. The result has been that the intimidation from these calls has led some organizations to refuse to provide the letters to USCIS, thereby preventing the party from having the ability to file for the visa.
Those athletes and entertainers who filed for “green cards” as individuals of extraordinary ability AFTER May 1, 2016, will now have their cases placed in indefinite hold and will not be permitted to have their cases approved after August 1, 2018 until the annual supply of these visas catches up with the demand. THIS WILL MEAN THAT UNLESS ONE’S CASE IS APPROVED BEFORE AUGUST 1, 2018 and they fall into the group who filed their green card cases after May 1, 2016, their cases will be put on hold.
When the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration & Refugee Affairs met in 1991 to discuss legislation impacting these artists, athletes and entertainers, Senator Kennedy said, “We are aware of the importance of encouraging the free and fair interchange of artists and cultural activity between nations…The purpose of these arrangements should be to open the doors of opportunity for U.S. citizen and resident alien artists and entertainers and support personnel while welcoming such people from other countries. More should be done." It now appears that every effort is being made to close those doors of opportunity.
*Steven M. Ladik is past President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and represents numerous professional golfers on the LPGA Tour and PGA TOUR. He also serves as the outside Immigration Counsel to the National Football League. He is a Partner at Seltzer Chadwick Soefje & Ladik, PLLC. www.realclearcounsel.com