The White House has responded to an online petition regarding legitimizing Esports so that players abroad may obtain P-1 Visas. The P-1 Visa is applicable to those wanting to enter the Unites States to perform a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually, or as a part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance. The “Leffen” petition was created in support of Super Smash Brothers. Melee player William “Leffen” Hjelte from Sweden who had been using a travel Visa so that he could enter the U.S. That request was denied by U.S. Officials, instead informing him to apply for a P-1 Visa, which was also declined by the U.S. citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The White House responded by informing signers that Visa applications are accessed on a case by case basis. The official statement from The White House can be found here or read below:
“The P-1 nonimmigrant visa classification allows individuals to come to the United States temporarily to perform at a specific athletic competition as an athlete, individually or as part of a group or team, at an internationally recognized level of performance. You raised questions about a specific Super Smash Bros. Melee player and his P-1 visa application. Consistent with the We the People Terms of Participation, we decline to address such matters that are properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies — in this case, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
However, we do want to provide more information about the broader issue you raised.
According to USCIS, the agency responsible for processing P-1 visa applications, there is no current policy categorically precluding an eSport from being recognized as a qualifying athletic competition. In fact, USCIS has approved P-1 visa petitions for athletes seeking to enter the United States to compete in eSport events.
It’s important to remember that every case, regardless of what sport it involves, is different and is reviewed on its own merits. USCIS may request additional information when there is not enough documentation or evidence to establish eligibility for the requested classification. Given this case-by-case adjudication, a particular denial or approval does not necessarily represent a broader policy interpretation or change.
You can find more information on the P-1 visa process on the USCIS website. Individuals who have issues about particular cases can also contact the DHS Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman. The Ombudsman helps to provide impartial and independent perspectives in an attempt to address issues related to pending cases. Learn more about the Ombudsman”.
Meanwhile, Leffen was able to eventually obtain a P-1 Visa in May which will allow him to be able to attend the largest competitive event in the world at EVO 2016.