This week I think a lot of people were surprised to find out Edna Kiplagat and her family have green cards and are living in the US. Kiplagat is one of the best marathoners in the world, but has lived in Kenya throughout her life.
Meanwhile, Edward Cheserek, one of the best 5k runners in the world, who has lived in the US since high school can't get a green card. Ches on the surface has more of a connection to the US but from what I've discovered, none of that matters. What matters is how good an athlete you are.
Athletes can get green cards if they have "Have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics,"
but apparently the bar is very high. That means Kiplagat is getting her visa because she's rightfully considered a more accomplished runner than King Ches (she's a 2 time world champ in the marathon). And it's interesting that athletes can get in at the end of their careers.
But that got me thinking. Edward Cheserek is a great athlete. He would have been like a #1 or #2 draft pick if this was the NBA. Wouldn't that type of person be able to get a green card pretty easily? Or is that different because the employer (NBA team) would be sponsoring them?
Some links below on who can get the athlete visa:
If you are among your sports elite, then you may be able to self-petition for an E-1 visa; however, this is a high standard to meet. The E-1 visa is available to people with an extraordinary ability in certain fields (which includes athletics).[ii] In regards to athletics, extraordinary ability amounts to obtaining once in a lifetime international recognition. For example, medaling in the Olympics or being inducted into your sports hall of fame.
If you can establish that you have an extraordinary ability in athletics, that you intend to work in the area which you have your extraordinary ability, and USCIS determines that your work will benefit the United States, then you may be able to adjust status under EB-1. For more information regarding the requirements of EB-1 and other employment based visas follow this link.
"In brief, a person can qualify by either showing proof of receipt of a major, internationally recognized award such as the Nobel Prize or three of the following criteria:
• Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized award for excellence in field
• Membership in organizations that require outstanding achievement as judged by national or international experts
• Publications in professional or major trade or media ABOUT the alien and his/her work
Judging the work of others
• Original contributions internationally recognized as of major significance
• Articles written by you published in journals of international circulation
• Performance in a leading role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation
• High salary or other remuneration in relation to others in the field
• Other comparable evidence"