This month, the International Brazilian Jiujitsu Federation (IBJJF) announced that it will now be awarding cash prizes to winners at the World Championships. Prizes will reportedly range from $4000 to $7000 for regular divisions, depending on the number of competitors, and $10,000 for Black Belt Absolute Champions. While this is welcome news, foreign national athletes intending on visiting the US to compete at the Mundials should bear this development in mind when applying for their visas. It may be a technical point, but like jiujitsu, being technical can go a long way. Conversely, ignoring the finer points can be detrimental and hurt your game in the long term.
Unless a foreign national is applying for or entering the United States on an immigrant visa, he or she must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the US government that he or she bears non-immigrant intent. In other words, the individual must prove that he or she does not harbor an intent to stay here permanently. Rather, he or she is coming to the US on a temporary basis, whether that means for pleasure, school, or in some cases, business. The important point is that once the individual has accomplished his or her purpose, he or she will be leaving the United States. With a few limited exceptions, the doctrine of non-immigrant intent applies to all non-permanent resident visitors, whether they are entering the country on a visa, coming from a visa-exempt country like Canada, or from a visa-waiver country, like England. Non-immigrant intent may need to be proven at a US Consulate before a consular officer or at the border before a Customs and Border Protection officer. In some cases, one may even need to prove continuing non-immigrant intent before USCIS, i.e., in connection with an extension of status.