PGA TOUR, DP World Tour & LIV Golf "Merge" Commercial Operations Under Common Ownership
What will this "merger" mean for foreign nationals with U.S. P-1 visas competing on this new tour who were previously sponsored for their visa under one of these tours involved in the merger? Note the word "merger" is being thrown around casually, but there may not actually be a true merger that would impact the status of the PGA TOUR.
If there is going to be a new entity that does not have a name , a corporate entity or schedule, it is likely that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will require each foreign national golfer to file an amended petition under the new entity as the "sponsoring organization" to compete in the U.S. This may take time and delay their ability to compete in the U.S. under their P-1 visa. However, as an amended petition is being submitted, note that the regulations allow individual athletes like golfers to compete for prize money only using a B-1 visitor visa. That may be the necessary strategy in the interim while new P-1 visa petitions are being prepared and filed. Again - This analysis is only based on a new entity being created that would impact the PGA TOUR as an existing entity so it is unclear which direction this will go.
USCIS regulations require a P-1 petition to be accompanied by an itinerary that will support the requested period of authorized stay which can be valid for up to 5 years. While no sport has events scheduled out for 5 years into the future, USCIS has been willing to accept a statement from the sponsoring tour that its current schedule repeats in substantially the same format every year. This new tour cannot easily say that with certainty because they do not even have a schedule yet, much less a history which illustrates the truth of such a statement. This could lead to USCIS only issuing new P-1 visas for 1 year in accordance with the one year schedule which is expected to be issued for the new tour. Attorneys should be prepared to receive Requests for Evidence in which USCIS raises this issue.
Much remains to be seen as this merger process continues, but all players, agents and the new tour should be prepared to address these issues in advance.