Esports Law: A Change in U.S. Visa Law Could Devastate the Overwatch League

Sep 11, 2019

picture to accompany blog post about esports immigration issue Professional gamers, team owners, executives, and industry investors tied to the Overwatch esports league should brush up on a new bill making its way through Capitol Hill. It’s an immigration proposal that, if passed, would prohibit Korean athletes from securing permanent residency status in the United States.

What is S.386 and Why Should Esports Professional Care about It?

Bill S.386, the proposed law, includes a section regarding EB-1A visas, also known as Extraordinary Ability Green Cards. They’re reserved for people of astonishing talent and allow U.S. companies to secure top performers from around the world. An EB-1A visa is a powerful recruiting tool because it offers permanent residency.

According to immigration lawyers, if ratified, the law would cease all employment green cards for about seven years for every country except India and China. Or, to put it another way, only esports athletes from India and China would be able to secure EB-1A visas for nearly a decade. Industry watchers have commented that the Overwatch league, where many recruits hail from South Korea, would likely be affected.

Currently, it takes applicants between 18 and 24 months to secure an EB-1A. In some instances, it can take three years. If legislators wave through S.386, however, the wait could balloon into a seven year stretch, which is longer than the playing career of some esports athletes.

Yes, stateside teams can legally sponsor esports athletes from other countries. However, many players may not want to come without the perk of permanent residency.

S.386 handily made it through the House of Representatives, but legislative watchers don’t expect the Senate to jump on this issue with alacrity. Whichever the case, we’ll keep an eye on developments.

Connect with an Esports Attorney

Do you need legal help with an esports visa issue? Or perhaps you’re negotiating a team or sponsorship contract? Whatever the case, our esports law attorneys can guide you through the process. Our firm has worked with professional esports athletes for years. We know the professional gaming industry like LeBron James knows basketball.

Get in touch today. Let’s discuss your situation and come up with some solutions.

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