Episode 20: My Son Works?!: Diplomatic Visas, Tourist Visas, Unlawful Employment, and Trademark Infringement with Prince Akeem in Coming to America

In this episode, Shai and Roderick sow their podcasting oats by celebrating Coming to America, starring Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem. From palace life in Zamunda to tenement living in Queens, New York, our co-hosts figure out how the heir to the throne of a wealthy African nation ended up pursuing the daughter of a fast food restaurant owner, with some very questionable business practices.

The Immigration concepts they will explore include Diplomatic visas, tourist visas, and unlawful employment. Plus, Shai and Roderick consult with a special guest to discuss trademark infringement in the fast-food industry.

Listen to the episode:

Show Notes

Welcome to The Hasta La Visa, Baby podcast, a deep-dive into the relationship between U.S. immigration law and fictitious characters from some of your favorite television shows and movies. Hosted by Gibney Immigration group attorneys Shai Dayan and Roderick Potts, each episode focuses on a particular character from a well-known show or film and guides listeners through an in-depth and entertaining exploration into the possible U.S. visa status that the featured character may have held while in the U.S. Listeners will learn about key immigration considerations through the prism of the fun and fictitious worlds presented in television and film.

Today, Shai and Roderick talk about a movie that helped inspire them to launch their podcast: Coming to America!  This 1988 comedy features Eddie Murphy as Prince Akeem, a 21-year-old royal heir who is granted forty days to go to the United States, gain some life experience, and find love.  The movie follows Akeem’s journey from the privilege of the palace to the “normal” life of Queens, NY, where he finds an apartment and job and takes an interest in a young woman named Lisa.

Shai and Rod discuss interesting facts about the movie and why they love it before turning to Akeem as the foreign national character of focus for the day!  As a foreign dignitary spending forty days in the US, Akeem would have required a visa in order to live in the US legally.

Shai and Rod discuss the A-1 and A-2 visas for diplomats and other foreign government officials, ultimately concluding that Akeem would not have qualified for an A visa as he was not a head of state and his business in the US was non-governmental.  If Akeem was a student, as he claimed, he could have qualified for an F-1 visa.  But since he was not actually a student, the only option left for him would be a B-2 Tourist Visa.

While the B-2 visa works best for Akeem, it also raises a problem: B-2 status does not provide work authorization, but Akeem worked as a cleaner for fast-food restaurant McDowell’s.

Shai and Rod invite special guest Maja Szumarska, a Gibney partner focused on brand protection and enforcement, to discuss the restaurant’s IP and trademark issues with McDonald’s.  They then run through a hypothetical consultation with McDowell’s owner Cleo about hiring Akeem, focusing on the importance of an accurate and complete form I-9 for legal hiring.  The episode ends with Shay and Rod’s overall takeaways from the movie, and a look ahead to next month’s discussion of Sandy from Grease!


Learn more about the A-1 visa for diplomats and government officials.
Learn more about the B-2 visitor visa.
Learn more about the movie and guest Maja Szumarksa featured in this episode.
Learn more about Shay Dayan, Roderick Potts, and Gibney Anthony & Flaherty, LLP.
Connect with us at hastalavisa@gibney.com.
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