A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has asked the Department of Homeland Security for a written update on policies regarding NIL activities for foreign student athletes.

Key Points:

  • Since 2021, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has maintained a policy allowing college athletes to monetize their name, image and likeness (NIL) consistent with the laws in the state in which their school resides.
  •  Most foreign student athletes are in the U.S. on F-1 student visas, which place strict limits on their ability to work.
  • Signed by both Republican and Democrat senators — Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Christopher Murphy, D-Conn., Pete Ricketts, R-Neb., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. — the letter to DHS represents a bipartisan effort seeking updates on the agency’s policies regarding NIL activities for foreign students. The senators noted the credible risks to F-1 visa student athletes presented with NIL deals that could place them in violation of visa work restrictions without further guidance. The senators requested a declaration that the F-1 visa program does not prevent a student from engaging in NIL-related activities.
  • The letter emphasized that many foreign student athletes are stuck in limbo without legal protection or clarity, costing them lost opportunities and requiring them to make exhaustive efforts to remain in good standing with their visas or having to leave school.
  • The senators urged DHS to update the policy with steps the agency will take to demonstrate that it will follow through on clarifying the policy issue.

Additional Information: The letter is a follow-up to one sent last year by Sens. Blumenthal and Murphy. At a hearing, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the agency would move quickly to provide clarity for foreign student athletes, but no action has been taken to date. More than 30 NCAA Division I schools shared with BAL in a virtual roundtable last year that they needed further guidance. BAL will provide updates as information becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice Group.

Copyright © 2024 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries, please contact copyright@bal.com.