Eating your way to the US: O-1 Visa issued to “Professional Eater”

New Use for O-1 Visa: professional eater

I thought I had seen it all. Obviously not.

It turns out that if you are really good at eating lots of food under strict time constraints in front of cheering fans, you may be eligible for an 0-1 Visa.  As mentioned in previous blogs, 0-1 visas are US work visas reserved for persons of “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. I guess competitive eating falls under  the athletic category.

As it turns out, there is a professional eating organization for the best eaters on the planet called Major League Eating (MLE). The MLE apparently is big business having organized 85 eating meets with hundreds of thousands in prizes.

Well it seems that the USCIS has given the MLE and its eating-athletes its 0-1 blessing. Takeru Kobayashi was one such eater who was given the permission to work in the US under the 0-1 category. Now, the vast majority of 0-1 applicants are more traditional stars such as hockey players, performers or scientists.

But the  Kobayashi case illustrates that when it comes to the 0-1 visa category, the sky is the limit apparently. Bottom line: if you have a special talent, however unconventional,  you may be eligible for an 0-1 visa. Happy eating!

Michael Niren

About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the Associate Member of the American Bar Association. Read more

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