On July 19, 2018, it was reported that Alexis Sanchez, the Manchester United player and Chilean international, had successfully managed to obtain a non-immigrant visa to travel to the United States, to join his Manchester United teammates on their US tour. Sanchez was reportedly previously denied a visa, due to his acceptance of a 16 month suspended sentence in Spain earlier this year for tax fraud. It was alleged that he had defrauded the Spanish Government of €1 million while he was at Barcelona in 2012/2013.


Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

Under US immigration law, any individual convicted of a “crime involving moral turpitude” (hereafter “CIMT”), is deemed inadmissible to the US. CIMTs have generally been defined by the Board of Immigration Appeals as crimes which “shock the public conscience” and are “inherently base, vile, or depraved”. CIMTs include murder, rape and fraud offenses.

While we cannot comment on individual cases, willful tax evasion and fraud against revenue or other Government functions are recognized CIMTs under the Foreign Affairs Manual. As such, anyone in possession of a conviction for such a crime would be deemed inadmissible to the US and would require a waiver of inadmissibility in order to obtain a visa to enter the US.

Waiver of Inadmissibility

If a non-immigrant visa applicant is deemed inadmissible to the US due to their criminal record, generally, absent exceptional circumstances, they will be told at the end of their US Embassy interview if the Consular Officer will recommend the non-immigrant visa applicant for a waiver of inadmissibility.

If the Consular Officer recommends the visa applicant for a waiver of inadmissibility, the case is sent to the Admissibility Review Office in the US, which will make the final determination as to whether a waiver of inadmissibility is granted. It is important to note that the Admissibility Review Office are not bound by the Consular Officer’s recommendation and are entirely at liberty to decline to grant a waiver of inadmissibility, if they wish.
In this case, reports appear to suggest that Sanchez was granted a waiver of inadmissibility. However, details are limited.

It is noteworthy that, while celebrities should not expect to receive preferential treatment by US authorities, the determination of whether a waiver of inadmissibility should be recommended and granted includes a consideration of whether it is in the public interest to allow the foreign national in question to travel to the US.
Therefore, if Sanchez was deemed inadmissible to the US due to a conviction for a CIMT, the Consular Officer adjudicating upon the US visa application and the Admissibility Review Office would be compelled to consider the public interest in allowing Sanchez to travel to the US in determining whether to recommend and ultimately grant Sanchez a waiver of inadmissibility. In some cases, the public interest consideration will swing the balance in favor of the non-immigrant visa applicant.

Davies Legal Immigration
At Davies Legal Immigration, amongst others, we represent professional sportsmen in connection with non-immigrant and immigrant visa applications. We understand the importance of travel to the US at short notice and therefore offer a comprehensive, efficient, diligent service, tailored to your unique needs. Call now for a complimentary assessment of eligibility and take your first step towards achieving your true potential, on the international stage.

Published: 1st August 2018