Stop Congress From Taking Green Cards From Top Athletes

There is a dangerous piece of legislation making its way through Congress with little opposition that will have the impact of effectively preventing our leading artists, athletes, and entertainers from pursuing their dream of remaining in the U.S. with a “green card.”


HR 1044 and S386 have passed both houses by unanimous consent and it is likely that a compromise of these Bills will be attached to a must pass spending bill in the immediate future. Only Pelosi and/or McConnell can stop this from happening.


While the Bills were well meaning in the effort to reduce the current ten plus year waiting time for Indian nationals to immigrate in some categories, the immediate impact will be to increase the waiting time for all non-Indian nationals to almost 20 years in some cases due to the massive number of visas that will be reserved for Indian nationals.


Discrimination by nationality in immigration visa allocations is not a good thing and the Bills will eliminate the current per country quota on immigrant visas which is currently approximately 7% per country.


How did we get here? After the tech boom in the 2000s, the tech companies sponsored Indian tech workers for green cards in mass. Soon, the Indian nationals ate up more than their 7% quota for Indian nationals and a long waiting line formed for them to be able to immigrate. Visualize a theater that only holds a set number of customers that has a long line outside going for blocks and blocks and filled with people waiting over 10 years to get in the theater. Currently, it is almost impossible for Indian nationals to immigrate through workforce immigration, without a wait of at least a decade.


Tech workers were leaving the U.S. so the tech companies funded legislation to eliminate the per country quota so that once the quotas were eliminated, the system would become first come, first served. Sounds good, but there are currently enough Indian nationals in line to eat up all workforce visas for anywhere from 10 to 35 years, thereby virtually preventing all other country’s nationals from being able to immigrate. While the line of Indian employment-based immigration is unacceptably long, the way to address it is not to destroy workforce immigration for the whole world except for India.


Athletes will be particularly impacted by this legislation as, unlike other workers, they have finite careers and are always susceptible to career-ending injuries. In many sports, careers do not even last 10 years. So, athletes seeking to immigrate will likely not be able to wait in lengthy lines to immigrate since an athlete seeking a green card must intend to continue participating in is or her sport at the time the green card becomes available. This means he or she must still be competing when a visa finally becomes available. Within a decade it has been estimated that the top athletes of extraordinary ability in U.S. professional sports will have a wait time of at least 7 years or longer!


WHAT CAN YOU DO?


You, your league, team or tour should call their Senators and House member by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 (ask for your member) and tell the staffer who answers the phone “I’m a constituent and I oppose H.R. 1044 from being included in any spending or omnibus bill that Congress is currently considering. Please ask X member to not support this legislation.” Very easy!


*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

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