Getting a Green Card as a Coach


by Viktoriya Badoeva


A recent case of the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) may change the way visas in the USA are approved for professional athletes. The case recognized the existence of a relationship between competing and coaching or training.

Essentially, the new case opens the path for professional athletes at the end of their careers to obtain US visas as coaches, trainers and managers under a limited set of circumstances.

To qualify for the extraordinary talent category of the EB-1 visa in the field of sports, athletes or coaches must:

1) Provide extensive documentation that shows extraordinary ability in the field (by satisfying at least three out of 10 criteria offered by the US immigration authorities);

2) Demonstrate a level of expertise indicating that they are “one of that small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor”;

3) Demonstrate achievements that have been nationally or internationally recognized in their field, and most importantly that these achievements have been sustained through the date of filing the EB-1 petition; and

4) Show that they will continue working in the area of their extraordinary ability while in the US and that it will substantially benefit the country.


Securing EB-1 as a Coach or Trainer


It’s difficult to prove that athletes who used to be extremely talented in sports while competing, may be equally talented as a coach or manager when they have retired from competing, and have not yet developed a stellar track record as coaches.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when applying for the EB-1 visa as an athlete or a coach:

  1. Create an exact job title

It’s important to control the narrative by choosing the right position title to put on your documents. The best job title would be one that falls within the field of expertise you are best known for and still doing.

  1. Show sustained ability

Once the proper job title is chosen, it is crucial to show continued success in this area. In many cases, people have been declined because their award as an athlete dated 10 to 15 years before filing the petition.

In addition, if you are transitioning or only “recently” have transitioned to the coach, and want to piggy-back on your former athletic achievements, these achievements must be “recent.” While the immigration authorities do not define, what is “recent”, it may be prudent to say that if your last achievement as an athlete was 10 years ago, the chances that these achievements will be considered and given weight are extremely slim.

In addition, the longer the period of time you spent coaching, the less your athletic achievements will be considered. In this event weight will be primarily given to what you have achieved for the years you have been coaching.

  1. Demonstrate continuous work in the field

Even if you have met the “extraordinary ability” standard in an athletic field, it’s necessary to prove that you are going to continue working in this area while you are in the US. For example, a retired hockey athlete was denied because he is no longer playing or working in that specified field.

Many sections of the EB-1 regulation are still vague and not completely defined, but remember, each case is different. If you have questions on how to obtain an EB-1 visa in the area of sports, feel free to reach out to us. Since all cases are different, we may be able to increase your chances for a green card under this new ruling.

Getting a Green Card as a Coach