Sports Visas – The Story Behind The Headlines
It is now commonplace for British sports teams to be made up of professional athletes from other countries. The British appetite for sport is second to none and, combined with the economic, cultural and media profile that British sport enjoys, the UK has become something of a Mecca for the world’s leading athletes.
The most dramatic example is the English Premier League – the richest and most widely watched football league in the world – which now features a stark minority of home-grown players. The proportion of England-eligible players (which discounts those qualified for the other home nations) is 33.2%. The BBC reported in August 2015 that, of the 220 players who started on the opening day of last season, only 73 were eligible to play for England.
Different Routes to Sporting Employment
There are different means by which those overseas players can secure the right to ply their trade in the UK (whether they are footballers or practitioners of another sport). Depending on their intentions, the length of their respective contracts and the steps taken by their employers, sportsmen and women may apply for one of three different visa categories specifically geared towards sports people.
These are the Tier 2 Sportsperson visa, the Tier 5 Sporting visa and the Sports Visitor visa.
The Tier 2 Sportsperson visa allows for a three-year stay in the UK, with the option to extend it by an additional three years if so required. The Tier 5 Sporting Visa runs for a maximum of twelve months and carries broadly the same points-based requirements as its Tier 2 equivalent minus its English language requirement. The Sports Visitor Visa is designed to facilitate participation in specific events and has a validity of just six months.
Within these broad distinctions, more fine-grained criteria also apply – for example a Tier 2 Sportsperson visa will require the employing club or society to hold a sponsor’s licence and grant a formal sponsorship to their employee.
In some cases, it may be possible for a sportsman or woman to gain a UK working visa on another basis than that of sportsperson (e.g. by marital entitlement or via an investment visa). In all instances YDVISAS are well-versed in sourcing the most appropriate visa categories in any given circumstance. You could even say they are highly competitive in this arena.
YDVISAS specialise in all visa categories and are specialist immigration lawyers in the UK. Please contact the expert team at YDVISAS, should you need any professional help with your visa application.