Could international student-athletes get a Life-changing NIL deal?

Could international student-athletes get a Life-changing NIL deal?

The short answer: Yes, it is possible. 

Shockingly, it is not as simple or easy as you think. Let’s go on a journey to learn about NIL and how can it be possible for Kiwi Hoopers.

What is NIL?

Name, image, and likeness.

How did NIL come about?

Name, image, and likeness is the common term for the ruling of the NCAA v. Alston case centred around whether the NCAA could limit education-related payments to student-athletes. At its heart, the case revolved around whether or not athletes could earn compensation based on their likeness and their athletic or public prowess.

In NCAA v. Alston, the NCAA lost the case on a unanimous vote, and the NIL was born, essentially stating students could now earn profits from their names, images, and their likeness. 

What can a student-athlete do with NIL if you have US citizenship? 

With the NIL ruling in place, it allowed student-athletes (who are US citizens) to be compensated for their likeness. It allowed them to: 

  • Obtain sponsorships;
  • Get paid for social media posts;
  • Sign endorsement deals;
  • Sign with agents.

The student-athletes now could earn money based on their athletic stature or just simply their presence. 

What about International Students-Athletes?

The majority of International Students Athletes who come from New Zealand will require an F-1 visa to study full-time. (Unless you already have dual NZ/US citizenship before coming to the US.)

F-1 visa: 

The F-1 Visa (Academic Student) allows you to enter the United States as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. You must be enrolled in a program or course of study that culminates in a degree, diploma, or certificate and your school must be authorized by the U.S. government to accept international students.

Employment on F-1 visa:

F-1 students may not work off-campus during the first academic year, but may accept on-campus employment subject to certain conditions and restrictions. After the first academic year, F-1 students may engage in three types of off-campus employment:

  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) (pre-completion or post-completion)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Optional Practical Training Extension (OPT)

F-1 students may also be eligible to work off-campus on a case-by-case basis as a result of special situations such as severe economic hardship or special student relief. 

For F-1 students any off-campus training employment must be related to their area of study and must be authorised prior to start any work by the Designated School Official (the person authorised to maintain the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS)) and USCIS.

(Source: US Citizenship and Immigration Services )

Why are we talking about the F-1 Student visa?

“The NCAA’s interim NIL policy does NOT prohibit international student-athletes from engaging in NIL opportunities,” says Saquandra Heath, an NCAA spokesperson. But because of student visa requirements, getting paid for personal appearances, autographs, private coaching or endorsing products could potentially put an international student’s visa at risk.”

Immigration attorney Raymond G. Lahoud, who chairs the immigration practice group at the firm Norris McLaughlin, says international students make up about 12% of all college athletes, with over 3,000 playing on Division I teams.

“Most of these students are in the United States under an F-1 student visa, which is quite restrictive in that it does not permit a student to work in the United States,” says Lahoud. “When it comes to the NCAA’s NIL legislation, international student-athletes on F-1 visas must remain as passive as possible when in the United States. Students should just play the sport in the United States and nothing more.”

So, what does that all mean?

International student-athletes can’t profit off of NIL while in the United States, given how the law is currently written. With that comes debate as to what international students can do to profit. Some feel as long as the work is done internationally, there won’t be an issue. Others, however, are concerned about how that could impact the visa status of student-athletes. The rule can vary from school to school. You can be given different answers and different regulations. Never assume it is ok to do it when other student-athletes have done it.

Examples of International Student-Athletes who currently have or have done NIL deals:

Lou Hedley


University of Miami  Australian LifeWallet Flew back to Perth to sign the deals and shoot the commercials.
Oscar Tshiebwe


University of Kentucky Congolese Various companies Week-long team trip to Bahamas
Sam Alajiki


UC Berkeley Irish NextUpRecruitment UK Registered company paying in own currency from a UK account.
Hansel Enmanuel


Northwestern State University Dominican Various companies Hired a lawyer to help him secure an O-1 visa 
Tafara Gapare


UMASS New Zealander The Umass Collective Flew back to New Zealand during Christmas break in 2022. More detail

Other relevant thing to consider: Tax.

For more details visit IRS link here. Consider talking to a professional immigration attorney regarding NIL & tax.

Important things to remember

Just like making a commitment to become a student-athletes in the US, the NIL deal is NOT for everyone. We advocate best to focus on your goal whether it is finishing your degree or playing basketball professionally. 

Here at Kiwihoopers.com, we will continue the discussions on topics that will help you navigate life as a Kiwi Hooper. In the upcoming days, we invited current/ex-student-athletes, seasoned scouts and agents to share some insight with all of you. Interested in Recruiting? You can explore the topic of  “How to get recruited to play NCAA basketball”

Make sure you stay locked in and follow us on your favourite social media platforms: Instagram, facebook, twitter, tiktok and YouTube.

Disclaimer: All information on kiwihoopers.com are subject to change anytime without public notifications. All the information available on kiwihoopers.com is for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this website you understand that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and kiwihoopers.com publisher. The kiwihoopers.com should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state or country. 

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