The Immigration and Naturalization Service said yesterday no action would be taken against foreign players involved in the strike against the North American Soccer League if they had valid visas before the player strike was certified by the Department of Labor.
The NASL Players Association called a strike Friday against team owners because they will not recognize the union.
Yesterday's ruling was a result of a suit filed by Washington Diplomat player Bobby Stokes,who asked for a temporary restraining order to prevent the INS from deporting any foreign players.
INS Commissioner Leonel J. Castillo issued a statement that said the new decision resulted from an advisory opinion issued by Attorney General Griffin B. Bell and the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel.
Three other points were made in the INS statement:
Players holding valid visas will be allowed to reenter the country from Canada after leaving the United States to participate in league games.
No action will be taken to prevent nonleague foreign players from obtaining visas following the strike.
The INS will not approve additional visa petitions for prospective NASL players while the strike remains in effect.
Over the weekend, the INS indicated that foreign players in this country with temporary work visas would be subject to deportation if they appeared in NASL games during the strike. Many foreign players appeared in Saturday's games.
The INS decision is expected to clear up the doubt of the foreign players, who feared deportation as a result of the strike.
The NASL Players Association has called a press conference today at 1 p.m. at its headquarters here.
"The union is still on strike," said Frank Woschitz, director of public relations for the NASLPA.
"We plan to contact all the player representatives and come up with a plan.
"This was not a strike for the deportation of players. We may lose some now and we also may solidify some teams. Right now we can't tell what will happen."