Ohio State’s Colin Zeng will not be able to compete for the United States in Diving at the Olympics this summer in Rio. Zeng is in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, but because of the time it takes to gain proper immigration status, he is still not a citizen of the United States and therefore cannot compete for the country.
Zeng was born and raised in China, and moved to the US in 2010 to attend school in the states. Since he moved here, Zeng has been using a student visa to legally live in the country, until he was approved for an immigration visa petition last week. This essentially means that he is able to apply for a green card, which he did last week, but still is not enough for him to compete for the US at the Olympics.
Obtaining a green card is a long process that includes background checks that often take up to 30 days. Even if Zeng was granted a green card before Olympic Diving Trials, which is this Saturday in Indianapolis, he still would not be able to compete, as one must be an actual citizen. The full immigration process that results in citizenry typically takes five years after being granted a green card, time that Zeng does not have.
A special case can be made for Zeng, called an EB-1 visa for aliens of extraordinary abilities, or can have a Congressman apply for a rare bill that needs the approval of both the Senate and President to immediately grant him citizenship.
Zeng was a Big Ten Champion in both the platform and one-meter his freshman year, and also won the NCAA title in platform diving. Zeng scored an impressive 499.10 points, almost breaking into the 500 range.