October 17, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Pete Ricketts (R-NE) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) for International Collegiate Athletes Act to allow international student-athletes access to NIL opportunities at the collegiate level.
Currently, the F-1 visa, commonly referred to as a student visa, used by student athletes has conditions and restrictions on employment that do not accommodate NIL agreements. International students have been barred from monetarily gaining from their NIL due to the outdated scope of current international student visa laws. The consequences of participating in unauthorized employment can be grave for an F-1 visa holder. Ricketts’ bill would create a sub-category within the F-1 visa narrowly tailored to international student-athletes who want to pursue NIL opportunities. It would also allow designated school officials (DSOs) to provide oversight.
The bill has the support of the Athletic Directors at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska Omaha, and Creighton University.
“Part-time jobs are staples of the collegiate experience,” said Senator Ricketts. “The student visa needs to be updated to reflect the new NIL rules in collegiate athletics. International student athletes should be able to pursue the same opportunities as their fellow athletes from hosting summer camps for kids to appearing at events. Our common-sense bill will level the playing field to ensure American sports programs don’t lose talented student athletes because of our outdated visa system.”
“International students should be fairly compensated—just like American citizens—when profits are made from their athletic prowess,” said Senator Blumenthal. “They should have rights to name, image and likeness proceeds—resulting from their diligence, discipline and determination. Their blood, sweat, and tears are equally deserving of monetary reward as other student athletes. The current visa system puts them at risk of losing their legal status here if they earn any NIL money. This provision is deeply unfair and demonstrably outdated, and must be reformed, as our legislation would do.”
“I applaud the efforts of Sen. Ricketts and Sen. Blumenthal to bring forward a bi-partisan NIL bill on behalf of international student-athletes,” said Trev Alberts, Nebraska Vice Chancellor, Director of Athletics. “Nebraska Athletics has a long history of successful student-athletes from around the globe in many of our sports programs, and we support any efforts to enhance the student-athlete experience. This bill would provide our international student-athletes with the same opportunities to monetize their name, image, and likeness as other student-athletes.”
“I support this bill and believe international student-athletes should be able to monetize their name, image and likeness just as domestic student-athletes can without affecting their F-1 status or the benefits associated with being an F-1 student,” said Marcus Blossom, McCormick Endowed Athletic Director at Creighton University.
“We appreciate Senator Ricketts and his staff drafting this bill and are in support of the proposed legislation,” said Adrian Dowell, Vice Chancellor & Director of Athletics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. “Nearly 14% of all Maverick student-athletes are international and consequently, these students have not been able to capitalize on name, image, and likeness-related opportunities like their peers. If passed, this legislation would allow international student-athletes to market and profit from their NIL while maintaining their visa status.”
On June 21, 2021, in NCAA v. Alston, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the NCAA’s restrictions on expanded benefits for collegiate student-athletes. The NCAA then adopted an interim policy allowing collegiate student-athletes to earn money based upon their name, image, and likeness. However, international student-athletes, which represent about 12% of Division I athletes, have been largely prohibited from realizing those gains due to their student visa status.
According to 8 CFR 214.1(e), a nonimmigrant is not permitted to work in the U.S. unless it is expressly authorized by law. F-1 student visa holders are only permitted to be employed under specific circumstances, none of which would apply to name, image, and likeness deals. The consequences of violating these visa terms can be grave. The government can terminate the holder’s visa status and withhold benefits in the future, like green cards.
The Ricketts-Blumenthal legislation creates a sub-category visa class of the F-1 visa providing work authorization for NIL activity as “incident to status”, meaning it would be generally permitted as long as student-athletes were progressing in their degree program.
Examples of current international student-athletes at Nebraska colleges and universities include:
- Jaz Shelley, of Australia, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Women’s Basketball
- Keisei Tominaga, of Japan, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Men’s Basketball
- Nouredin Nouili, of Germany, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Football
- Francisco Farabello, of Argentina, Creighton University Men’s Basketball
- Ana Paula Martinez, of Mexico, Creighton University Women’s Tennis
- Andrine Weslie, of Norway, Creighton University Women’s Soccer