Immigration Issues For Chinese Professional Golfers

With more and more Chinese professional golfers qualifying for major U.S. golf tours, they are being confronted by issues and regulations which particularly impact Chinese nationals.


The Visa Reciprocity Tables of the U.S. Department of State outline visa costs, length of visa validity and acceptable number of entries for all different visa types for nationals of all countries. These can vary based on the Department’s desire to give reciprocal treatment to each country based on how it treats U.S. nationals on similar visas. For Chinese nationals, see the table at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/Visa-Reciprocity-and-Civil-Documents-by-Country/China.html.


While other countries have varying limits on their U.S. visas, the rules are particularly strict for Chinese nationals. The primary “athlete” visa for professional golfers is the P-1 visa. For most foreign professional golfers, they receive a five-year P-1 visa valid for multiple entries for the duration of the five-year period. However, per the table in the link above, Chinese golfers only receive a three-month visa valid for only a single entry. This presents unique problems for these golfers although there are some other countries with varying periods of validity.


This means that the golfer must:


1. Use the visa to enter the U.S. within three months and be admitted for the full five-year period of admission on their P-1 visa petition Form I-797 Notice of Action; or

2. Go through the cumbersome process of scheduling a new visa appointment, dealing with the waiting time, and attending an interview at a U.S. consulate outside of the U.S. if they leave after their three-month visa has expired. While they can try to schedule an interview in a country other than China, acceptance of their application is discretionary at other U.S. consulates.


With more professional tour events being scheduled outside of the U.S., this im