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Pelé Scores a Goal with U.S. Immigration Authorities

If you think that once Edson Arantes Do Nascimiento “Pelé,” the world’s famous soccer icon, arrives to JFK International airport in New York City, immigration authorities will not even ask for his Brazilian passport. That instead they will ask him for an autograph and if they can take a picture with him. You’d be mistaken, that is not the case for celebrities regarding immigration issues.

Obtaining an O-1 Visa for Professionals with Extraordinary Ability

After a process of seven months, Pelé was granted an O-1 visa by U.S. immigration authorities last Friday, April 1st before he could start his new job as Honorary President for the New York Cosmos soccer team. To secure his visa, his immigration attorney Michael Wildes had to prove Pelé is an “alien of extraordinary ability” and that required translation of media reports, prizes and awards, as well as letters of recommendation for the soccer legend.

Translation is critical to establish a case in the right direction because if translation services get it wrong, the case rises challenges”, said Wildes, who has represented celebrities such as super model Giselle Bundchen and classical artist Sarah Brightman who wanted to pursue their careers in the United States.

After this process, Wildes said the best part was to have the privilege to meet Pelé. “He is more a gentleman than anyone else. He has an icon status that is well earned”, said Wildes about his client.

Although super models, athletes and Hollywood stars often hold an O-1 visa, Wildes explains that this type of visa is used for any professional field, from finance to hospitality. But to prove an extraordinary ability or talent, an applicant needs to provide documents translated to English such as media reports, trade magazine’s publication about his achievements, as well as awards and membership in professional associations. How Extraordinary Are You?