viOLet becomes the first StarCraft II pro to obtain a P-1A athletic visa.
StarCraft 2 pro Kim "viOLet" Dong Hwan did not have a good 2013, but it wasn't due to his StarCraft 2 play. Instead of battling Terrans and Protoss for WCS championship points, he was battling the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services and the State Dept. for permission to enter the country and compete in tournaments. Now, at the end of a year in which he repeatedly had to forfeit his WCS chances due to visa problems, he has finally won his battle and secured a P-1A athletic visa that ensures he can travel and compete in the US for the next five years. He becomes the first SC2 pro to attain this visa.
At least for viOLet's eSports career, the visa was a matter of life and death. He competed successfully at numerous tournaments in 2012 and earned some very high placements at MLG events throughout the year, as well as silver medals at NASL and IPL 5, but somehow ran afoul of the State Department. This year, his attempts to get permission to travel to the US were denied three times. These were costly setbacks for the Zerg player, forcing him to forfeit his place in WCS America's round of 16 in both the first and second seasons. Rendered effectively unable to compete in WCS at all, viOLet's 2013 turned into a lost year, with only a few tournament appearances and few avenues for prize money.
According to reporting by The Daily Dot, viOLet's manager Andrew Tomlinson then started a campaign to get influential people to write letters of support to immigration officials on viOLet's behalf. Executives at Blizzard, NASL, Machinima, and even caster and Twitch executive Marcus "Dj Wheat" Graham all lent their names to viOLet's cause. But more importanly, Tomlinson and his company Cyber Solutions Agency had to put together a 500-page overview on viOLet's career basically proving to immigration that StarCraft 2 was, indeed, a legitimate sport and that viOLet himself was a legitimate competitor.
This is not the first time StarCraft 2 professionals have run into visa troubles. Chinese pros Jin "Jim" Hui Cao and Xiang "MacSed" Hu both had visa struggles this season, and Jim even had to drop out of IEM Shanghai earlier this year in order to go do work on his visa application. John "TotalBiscuit" Bain has also endured a nightmarish encounter with the U.S. immigration service, one that kept him out of the U.S. and away from his wife Genna for two years.
Understandably, viOLet is relieved and thrilled to be finally escaping from his career-killing immigration limbo. In an informal statement released via his management, he said:
"If we got denied this last time too, yeah, I would pretty much have to retire. No more esports (and I’m pretty sure a lot of people think I’m retired from pro-gaming already)! But I am not, and so I started working on my stressful visa work with Andrew! …AND TODAY, finally, I got the P1-A stamp visa on my passport! OH MY HECK YEA !! That means I’m going to USA next Monday and will meet all my ‘merican friends, and I’m going to meet you guys again at tournaments!"
Armed with his visa, viOLet is ready to come stay in the US and begin the hard work of resuming his career as a top SC2 progamer, writing, "viOlet is coming to you pretty soon! :D JAGERBOMB TIME HUH?"
After having his career almost derailed twice, first by a house fire that destroyed his family's home and left him in the hospital, and then by being effectively shut out of the United States, viOLet has probably earned that drink.
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