Ex-player and popular Twitch streamer Henrik ‘AdmiralBulldog’ Ahnberg entered the US last night to attend The International, Dota 2’s largest tournament, as a commentator and analyst. Upon explaining to the customs officer on the ground that he was there for that reason, they interviewed him and rejected his entry to the US for not having a proper work visa. He’s currently on hour 12 of a 30-hour trip back home to Gothenburg, Sweden. He won’t be at The International and he won’t be casting.
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As Ahnberg explains in this lengthy post, tournament organiser PGL hadn’t told him there was any issue with using a B1 visa – intended for tourism and business usage – to commentate at the event. What he actually required was a work visa, and he wasn’t comfortable with one of the ways he could have got around this:
I could also have lied to the officer saying I'm jus here to attend TI but something seems wrong with that and it shouldn't be necessary
— Henrik Ahnberg (@AdmiralBulldog) August 1, 2017
As lengthy comment threads on Reddit point out, US visas are notoriously difficult to secure, both in literally getting them and making sure you have the right one. Ahnberg even asked the customs officer if those travelling under visa waiver programs like ESTA would be allowed, which they told him they weren’t.
Ahnberg will have to apply and pay for another business visa, and his next trip the US will almost certainly also involve an in-depth interview with customs on the ground. He also explains in the blog post just how much money this has cost him once he adds up the flights, the lack of payment for the event, and his content production plans for while he was there.
It’s another example of the teething problems of esports, still occurring long after it’s left the crib and is exploring the real world. It’s not sustainable as esports grows – athletes visas are now readily available because it’s accepted as a sport, meaning commentary, analysis, or whatever else are all real jobs. That means having the proper documentation no matter what it costs the company running the event.