Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Visa Delay Causes Mariner to Be Late to Cactus League

Seattle Mariners second baseman Jose Lopez will be late for spring training due to immigration problems with his work visa. Lopez, a Venezuelan citizen, like other foreign national MLB players is required to obtain or keep current a valid work visa. MLB.com reports that:

Lopez has not yet received a working visa from his Venezuelan government, and is expected to miss the first day or two of Spring Training, manager John McLaren announced Tuesday morning during his pre-workout media session at the Peoria Sports Complex.

The report itself is misleading as the visa requirement is one imposed by the United States government. While visas may be processed through the foreign country's U.S. consulate, the process rarely requires any involvement from the foreign government.

Athletes typically qualify for one of two work visas. Extraordinary athletes who have reached the top of their sport may seek an O visa. The fundamental requirement for an O visa is to have reached the top of the profession or endeavor for which the alien seeks admittance into the United States. Think David Beckham. The P visa is an alternative available to those athletes who do not otherwise meet the high standard required for classification in the O category. While the P visa still requires extraordinary ability, the main difference between the O visa and P visa is that with a P visa a player can come for a maximum of one year and with an O visa the player can come for longer. It would probably be safe to bet that an athlete like Lopez, who batted .251 last year with a plethora of errors to boot, is waiting on a P visa - and that's probably a good thing for Seattle fans.

Lopez's visa makes for late arrival [MLB.com]
Coming to America: Immigrants, Baseball and the Contributions of Foreign-Born Players to America’s Pastime [National Foundation for American Policy]

UPDATE: Minnesota Twins ace Francisco Liriano also had visa problems that caused him to be late to Spring Training.

1 comment:

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