White House Responds to eSports Visa Petition, Passes Responsibility to USCIS

Earlier this month, we asked you all to help us protect the rights of eSports Athletes by asking the government to #RecognizeGame. We launched a PSA as a complement to a petition signed by 117,677 signatories in April asking the White House to recognize all eSports as legitimate so that international players can receive P1 Visas to play in the U.S.

Well, the White House responded, and they view this issue as one that falls under the authority of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office—aka USCIS. While the White House did reaffirm that eSports players are recognized as qualifying athletes in the U.S. and fully eligible to receive P1 Visas, the Visa decisions are ultimately dependent on custom officials’ knowledge of games, tournaments and teams – which they typically don’t know much about.

Here's the White House’s take on eSports issue: 

  • Currently, there are no policies that directly exclude eSports athletes from being recognized as a qualifying athlete in the U.S.

  • Every P-1 visa case is reviewed on a case-by-case basis

  • Some visa applications may require additional proof that an eSports athlete is “legitimate” and “internationally recognized”

  • A particular denial or approval of an eSports athlete does not represent broader policies 

Clearly, this wasn’t the response we were hoping for, and we get the frustration. However, we see a big opportunity. Now the ball is firmly in the USCIS’ court. Instead of issuing another petition that may fall on deaf ears, we’re focusing our efforts on educating U.S. customs officials, leadership within the USCIS and aspiring international eSports athletes who may need assistance navigating this confusing system. Our goal is to get eSports athletes onto U.S. teams and into competitions, and we’re working on resources to make this happen. 


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