If you are an international athlete, you may want to immigrate to the United States to broaden your horizons and gain better opportunities as well as specialized training. Depending on your situation and your needs, you may be able to get the right visa so that you can extend your stay in the U.S. legally.
However, this process can take a lot of time, and it can be very complex. Make sure that you have a good grasp of how the law applies to your situation and that you take early and proactive action to apply for the right visa or permit for you. The following are some possible ways that athletes from overseas can extend their stay in the U.S.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) as a recent graduate
If you graduated from a United States university, it is likely that you will qualify for OPT. This means that following graduation, you will be able to live and work in the U.S. for up to 12 months. This could enable you to have the time to widen your network in the United States and potentially gain a sponsor.
Immigrate as a professional athlete
If you are recognized as an international level of performance or you are a professional athlete, you may be able to qualify for a P-1A athlete visa so that you can temporarily live and work in the U.S.
Adult athletes who want to compete professionally
If you are over the age of 18 and an aspiring professional athlete, you may encounter some problems gaining a visa, because you will likely not qualify for the P-1A visa or a student visa. One option is to come to the US for 90 days using a visa waiver, or using a B-1 or B-2 visa.
If you are an aspiring athlete and you want to stay for a long period in the US, make sure that you understand the options available to you so that you can make the right choice.