Last week, Attorney Bill Reich appeared at the Peace Bridge Port of Entry in Buffalo, New York to represent a young British citizen/landed permanent resident of Canada, in applying for entry to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program in B-1 (business visitor) status. This young individual is a professional motorcycle racer, both in Canada and the U.S., and had been previously periodically entering the U.S. so he could compete in professional motorcycle races. However, on his last entry a few months ago, he was advised by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officers that he required a P-1 visa to enter the U.S. for this purpose.
Wanting to properly comply with U.S. immigration laws, he contacted our law firm to confirm whether he did require a P-1 visa for professional athletes and clarify his understanding of B-1 permissible business activities. After speaking to the client, our firm was able to confirm that the client was eligible to enter the U.S. as a B-1 business visitor to compete in the professional motorcycle race. Specifically, pursuant to the CBP Field Inspector's Manual, professional athletes who are entering the U.S. to compete in competitions and are competing solely for prize money (i.e. not being paid a salary or payment for their participation in the race), are deemed to be within the scope of permissible B-1 business activities.
Based on our findings, we scheduled a controlled admission with CBP for our client. We first sent a packet to CBP to inform them of the client's background and his eligibilty to enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program in B-1 status. Once ensuring that CBP agreed with our research, we scheduled a time/date for the client to appear at the local Port of Entry to present himself for inspection and apply for admission. Mr. Reich accompanied the client to the Port of Entry and the client was inspected by CBP officials. At the conclusion of the appointment, the client was successfully issued an Form I-94W and allowed to enter the U.S. to compete in the upcoming motorcycle race.
The above scenario just highlights the fact that the scope of permissible activities under the B-1 category is incredibly complex. This is mostly because of the difficulty in determining when individuals exceed the scope of the permissible B-1 business visitor activities and begin to take the form of employment activities.
For additional information about the B-1 business visitor classification, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.
By NISHA V. FONTAINE, ESQ