immigration and the wide world of sports by josh wildes

Nowadays, the broad reach of athletics has expanded even further, extending into almost every industry and field around the world. As different sports and leagues become more globally popular, especially with the rise of esports, many international players have ascended to stardom, often with a desire to compete and/or train in the United States.  As a result, remaining compliant with U.S. immigration law has become a priority, so that the players will be able to benefit professionally and financially from their talents herein. At Wildes & Weinberg, we specialize in making the process of obtaining U.S. visas as quick and painless as possible, with an astounding track record of success obtaining visas for athletes that compete in a variety of different arenas including, but not limited to basketball, golf, boxing, hockey, tennis, and esports (i.e., League of Legends, Call of Duty, Valorant, etc.).

Though there are many different pathways to obtain such authorization, the O-1 visa, which is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in their field, is a great option for athletes because an individual can apply for an O-1 visa at any time during the year, and there are no visa quotas or limits in the amount granted. However, the standard of eligibility is relatively high, as the individual athlete must be able to demonstrate that they have a reputation of distinction and maintain extraordinary abilities in their sport. This requirement can be met by submitting evidence such as press, articles, awards, ad campaign work, large followings, magazine tear sheets, high rates of compensation, and more. It is also helpful to demonstrate that the athlete has worked with distinguished companies, teams, brands, and organizations, as well as providing testimonial letters from prominent individuals who can confirm the athlete’s extraordinary reputation and work history.

Another strong option for athletes is the P-1 visa, which requires showing that the individual is internationally recognized or considered a “Professional Athlete,” which requires meeting certain eligibility requirements as well. This includes proving that the person has international rankings, has been profiled by the sports media, has competed in a U.S. college or for a national team, as well as numerous other distinctions. Although the P-1 is a great option, it provides less flexibility, as it must be tied to a specific athletic competition, event, or season.

While the process for preparing an O-1 or P-1 petition can seem intimidating, our team of experienced lawyers are well qualified to guide you. In fact, we have an entire team dedicated to athletic professionals and O/P visas. Our multilingual staff will help throughout each step in the process, from document collection to scheduling a visa appointment, and everything in between. Wildes & Weinberg’s team of legal experts will help you to maximize the chances of approval, address your concerns, and move the process along as swiftly as possible.

It is important to have a law firm on your side that is experienced and capable of devising solutions that meet your individual and team needs. Our O/P group remains up to date on current issues and how to deal with the challenges people are experiencing with these types of visas. We take pride in ensuring the integrity of the O/P process so that both the athletes and the teams are protected in every way possible. At Wildes & Weinberg, you can be sure that your matter will receive the personal attention it deserves so that you can take the field or step on to the court with one less pressure.

Wildes & Weinberg was founded in 1960 by Senior Partner, Leon Wildes.  Nearly three quarters of a century later, the firm continues to concentrate its practice in all aspects of U.S. immigration and nationality law, servicing the immigration requirements of prominent American and International firms, banks, industrial, financial, and manufacturing concerns, as well as law firms in connection with the personnel needs of their foreign national employees.

In addition, the firm has a distinguished clientele and has done substantial immigration work for performing artists, directors, writers, models, actors/actresses, athletes, fine artists, art dealers, curators, influencers, esports professionals, and literary agents. Most notable was Leon Wildes’ successful representation of former Beatle John Lennon and his artist wife, Yoko Ono, in their deportation proceedings, the basis of which has inspired legislation, and has been portrayed in films, plays, and literary works worldwide.  Some of the firm’s other distinguished clients include soccer icon Pele, Master Chef Jean-Georges, musicians Sinead O’Connor and Boy George, scholar Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks (z”l), as well as Former First Lady Melania Trump and her family.

Michael Wildes, the firm’s Managing Partner and the son of Leon Wildes, is also currently serving his fourth term as Mayor of Englewood, New Jersey,  is the author of Safe Haven in America: Battles to Open the Golden Door (which draws on over a quarter of a century of his practice in the immigration field),  is an Adjunct Professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, and serves as Counsel to Lincoln Center and several international/corporate law firms. Michael’s son, Josh Wildes, now a third generation immigration lawyer, joined the firm after working for the U.S. Department of Justice and handles many of our athlete’s cases.

Despite difficulties currently being encountered in dealing with U.S. immigration authorities, the firm has maintained an extraordinary track record for success in its cases. The firm’s litigation group has expanded its efforts in filing Mandamus Actions and other Actions in Federal Courts throughout the nation.

In addition, Wildes & Weinberg’s multilingual staff is spread throughout its offices in New York City, Englewood, New Jersey, Miami, Florida, Denver, Colorado and by appointment only in Los Angeles, California and Tel Aviv, Israel, and are known for their experience and special expertise in processing each foreign national’s case with nothing less than the highest level of professionalism.

For more information on our firm please visit or contact Josh Wildes at

For Further Information On How We Can Help Your Firm Meet Its Employment Eligibility Verification Obligations, Please Contact Amy Wildes At

In The News


I would like to bring the positive news that mine and my family's visas have been APPROVED! I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and to express my heartfelt gratitude for your exceptional efforts and unwavering support...

Lee Jackson Date : September 25, 2023

Michael and his entire team are professional, diligent and knowledgeable, effective and efficient, patient in guidance and interaction, and confident and reassuring in attitude. In brief: excellent partners and guides for the complex immigration journey.

Jonatan S Date : September 14, 2023

The team at Wildes & Weinberg waste no time. They are intelligent, professional, and know exactly what needs to be done to succeed in your case. Had the pleasure of working with Josh Wildes, Julie P. Levey, and Brenda Moura,...

Michael “Dimucc” DiMuccio Date : September 8, 2023

Josh Wildes & everyone on the W&W team were excellent with dealing with my green card application. The team were responsive to any questions, set clear goals & requirements for any & all documentation and were clear on what to...

Kelvin Barker Date : March 10, 2023

I received my Green Card from Michael Wildes and his firm some days ago. The petition approval and Green Card release represent a real achievement for people like me in the US. Michael Wildes and his team are excellent, and...

Luca Zammataro Date : November 22, 2022

Dear Michael Wildes, my husband and I would like to thank you and your team,  the work was not easy, especially in the statement, there were a lot of flaws, but we managed to correct everything in a short time,...

Jacques Carline Date : August 3, 2022

Our client David came to us after spending more than three years stuck in the immigration court morass with another attorney. His individual hearing wasn’t scheduled to occur for over a year, and he thought it might get pushed off...

David E. Date : June 8, 2022

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