Recently, both Josh Yaro and Fabian Herbers received their green cards to have permanent residence in the United States. It's a unique aspect of playing soccer for foreign players. Here's a more behind the scenes look at what goes into getting a green card, and what it means for the player to have one.
Josh Yaro has spent much of his life in the United States. Born in Ghana in 1994, Yaro and his family moved to the United States when he was in school. And now, he is officially a permanent resident of the United States.
Yaro received his green card this season, coincidently just before the Union's first Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match against Harrisburg City Islanders. Gaining his green card was a big step forward both in his personal life and professional life.
Initally, Yaro was supposed to have his green card at the beginning of the 2017 season, but the process took longer than expected. It started right after the Union selected Yaro with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft. The process consisted of filling out forms, having an interview with the US government, and then ultimately being granted permanent residence in the United States.
"It feels great to have the green card," Yaro said. "It took a little bit longer than expected, but it doesn't matter now because I have it. It's great for me in terms of traveling, because I can come in and out of the country without any problems."
Having a green card now makes life in the MLS much easier. While in college, Yaro was using a student visa to get around, which worked out fine because he rarely left the country, if at all. But playing in MLS, Yaro had to contact the US embassy every time the Union traveled outside of the country; mainly going to Canada to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Montreal Impact or Toronto FC. But now, he can move freely between the two countries.
"Every time we went to play in Montreal, or Vancouver or Toronto, I got stopped by immigration," Yaro said. "There was always a lot of back and forth. But now, that won't happen because of my green card. I'm really happy about that."
But there's also an added benefit for the Union as well. With Yaro receiving his green card, he no longer counts as an international roster spot. That space is now free for the Union to use at their wish.
"That's a factor and I think it helps the team in terms of signing an international player, if they choose to," Yaro said. "It's good for me, it's good for the team. It's just something good to have overall."
Having his green card, Yaro took another step forward in his professional career. And with him being cleared to play a few weeks ago from his shoulder surgery, Yaro is ready to focus on the rest of the 2017 season.
"I'm glad I have it, I'll say it over and over again," Yaro said. "As long as I can travel in and out of the country freely, it's a good feeling. Now I can just worry about the rest of the season and help the team however I can."