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USCIS Denies Green Card to World-Class Coach

February 18, 2020 (1 min read)

Miriam Jordan, New York Times, Feb. 18, 2020

"For the past three years, Henrique “Hicu” Motta, a rowing coach, has created unlikely success stories in a sport long associated with the privileged. He has taken his team of high school girls from working-class families to the national championships and sent several of them to Division I colleges on athletic scholarships. ... But Mr. Motta, 39, a Brazilian who is in the country on a work visa, has been notified that his petition to remain in the United States has been denied. In order to stay, U.S. immigration authorities said, he must prove that he has “extraordinary ability” to do a job that might otherwise go to an American. ... In early 2019, RowLA decided to sponsor Mr. Motta for a green card, or permanent legal residency in the United States. In the 300-page application, Ms. Greenberger described Mr. Motta as an “invaluable asset” to RowLA. Rob Glidden, president of the Long Beach Rowing Association, credited Mr. Motta’s training methods, nutrition counseling and personal qualities for creating an “outstanding” program to develop rowers. ... Mr. Wilner [Motta's attorney] has appealed the green-card denial, and the legal bills are mounting, totaling more than $15,000 so far. RowLA also applied for an extension on his original guest worker visa, which expired officially on Friday, for another three years. Rather than grant a renewal, immigration authorities earlier this month requested that Mr. Motta submit further evidence of his “extraordinary ability.” He is permitted to remain in the country and continue coaching until a final decision is made on either application."