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National Hockey League team sued USCIS over coach’s EB-1 denial

The right coach can make or break a team. Professional sports teams take coach selection very seriously, and they only want the best.

This was the motivation behind the National Hockey League (NHL) Buffalo Sabres’ attempt to hire a widely renowned strength and conditioning coach, Ed Gannon. Born in the United Kingdom, this hockey coach required an EB-1 visa to work in the United States. Sabres management believed that Gannon’s world-class credentials spoke for themselves – and plainly demonstrated why he deserved to come here.

Unfortunately, the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) disagreed. They denied his petition, claiming that there was insufficient evidence to prove that he met the visa’s requirement for “extraordinary ability in athletics.”

Buffalo Sabres fight back

The NHL team was surprised and upset by the decision. They responded by suing USCIS, alleging that the agency misstated key facts and also failed to follow their own rules for denying the petition.

Whether the lawsuit would’ve succeeded in court, we’ll never know. Shortly after filing the lawsuit, the USCIS reversed their decision and granted Gannon a green card. The Sabres then withdrew the suit.

This case exemplifies how, even for extraordinary applicants, the visa application process is never cut and dried. The omission of seemingly minor details or insignificant evidence can give the USCIS cause to reject you. This is just one reason that an immigration attorney can provide necessary guidance in the process. They know the system, and they know the common mistakes. Letting a professional navigate this complex process for you can make or break your outcome.

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