International Athletes Profit Off NIL While Competing Off of U.S. Soil

            Previously, I wrote about the difficulty that international student-athletes have had with the new NIL policies that have been enacted in the United States. International athletes are not allowed to profit off of their name, image, and likeness while in the United States because of their F-1 student visa status. Their visa does not allow them to partake in NIL, and there has been no word yet on whether Congress will change or create legislation that will soon allow international athletes to partake in NIL [1]. We hope that soon international athletes will be allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labor like every other athlete does because we know when Congress enacted legislation that restricts the type of work that international students may do while in the United States, they likely didn’t mean to impact them in this way.

            The current laws, though, do not restrict international athletes from profiting off of their NIL while they are off U.S. soil. As long as the athletes complete the NIL activities somewhere other than the United States, there is a stipulation in most student U.S. visa laws that they can earn passive income from those activities [2].

            Over the weekend at the Battle 4 Atlantis College Basketball Tournament, numerous men’s and women’s basketball teams traveled to the Bahamas to compete for the title. While at the tournament, numerous international athletes were finally able to cash in on their NIL because the tournament was held off of U.S. soil. This in part was thanks to a company called Influxer. Influxer is a company that charges brands a service fee for completed deals, and while this tournament was happening they helped athletes create content from photo and video shoots that companies can use in brand campaigns. Now that the content was created, athletes can earn passive income as companies purchase and use the content they created at the non-conference tournament. More than 30 athletes from 18 different countries were participants in the Battle 4 Bahamas, including superstars such as Oscar Tshiebwe from Kentucky and Kate Deeble from Wake Forest [2]. If those two athletes were from the United States they would have made a ton of money by now with NIL, along with many other superstar college athletes from overseas. At least now they were able to dip their feet in and see what it is like, and hopefully soon restrictions will be lifted and they will be able to take part in NIL activities full-time and not just when they are out of the United States. Though there has been no sign of change yet, there is at least one advocacy campaign to lift these restrictions, and although U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services and Congress have been quiet on this issue, it is likely to be sooner rather than later that restrictions will be lifted [4].

            These restrictions also make you wonder if there is a lot more incentive now for schools to participate in tournaments like Battle 4 Atlantis and College Football Bowl games that are held outside the U.S. to promote their international athletes and try and get a greater following from those respective athletes’ home countries through NIL.  There would be a lot of benefit to schools that have superstar international athletes to promote them as much as possible to try and gain global fandom, and potentially get a boost in recruiting as well. It will be very interesting to see what happens in the future with this issue as NIL is still very new and is still considered the “Wild West” of college sports. At this point, no one knows what to expect, but the possibilities are certainly endless.

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