Sports Immigration SNAFU
The story of Luke Rodgers, ex-Red Bull soccer star, provides a cautionary tale for immigrant athletes in Sarasota.
Luke Rodgers is a brilliant soccer (ehem, football) player and a prolific goal-scorer. In January 2011 he signed with the New York Red Bulls for an MLS debut season. He was able to secure a P-1 Athlete Visa beforehand after a lengthy process. The visa allowed him to play in the United States for a year.
Despite being out for two months due to plantar fasciitis (strange how European soccer players tend to get injured right after they arrive in America). He still scored 9 goals in 23 games.
Unfortunately, Mr. Rodgers’ P-1 visa was not renewed and on March 30, 2012 the Red Bulls had to terminate their contract with him. He is now playing for a club in Norway.
But the Red Bulls continued to pursue Mr. Rodgers and, according to the New York Post, he has an appointment coming up with the US Consulate in Norway concerning his appeal of the P-1 visa denial.
The reason that Mr. Rodgers is having trouble with his P-1 Athlete Visa is because he has several arrests on his record from England. The supporters may appreciate his fiery, feisty style of play but the USCIS does not. Any previous arrests are seen as criminal inadmissibilities and hurt the applicant’s case.
It is important for immigrant athletes in the Sarasota area who are thinking of applying for or renewing a P-1 visa to be aware of the types of issues they may face. If you find yourself in a situation similar to Mr. Rodgers’ you might think about contacting a Sarasota immigration attorney.