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New International Sportsperson Visa

Oct 27, 2021

On 11 October 2021, the Home Office launched the new International Sportsperson Visa. This route replaces and merges the Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa and the sporting element of the Tier 5 (Creative & Sporting) visa.

The Home Office have confirmed the purpose of the route as follows:

‘This route is for an elite sportsperson or qualified sports coach who is both internationally established and able to make a significant contribution to the development of their chosen sport at the highest level in the UK.’

 

Process and Requirements of International Sportsperson Visa

Obtaining immigration permission under the route remains a two-stage process:

  • Obtain a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) from the Governing Body for the relevant sport; and
  • Apply for entry clearance or permission to stay under the International Sportsperson visa route.

Once the endorsement is granted, the sponsoring club is must assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to the applicant, after which the applicant can apply for the visa.

In order to qualify for the visa, the applicant must meet the following requirements:

  • They have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship
  • They meet the English language requirement (unless they are applying for less than 12 months)
  • They meet the maintenance requirement either through personal funds or certification from the sponsor
  • They can travel to the UK and are able to provide their travel history for the previous five years
  • They hold a valid TB test (if applicable)
  • They hold an eligible qualification (if applicable)

Applications can be made for up to three years at a time.

One other key change is that all nationalities must apply for prior Entry Clearance whereas previously non-visa nationals could request entry on arrival for short-term visas.

 

Can this route lead to settlement?

This new route can lead to settlement under the following requirements:

  • The applicant has held the International Sportsperson visa for no less than 5 years;
  • The applicant has been paid or will be paid the annual salary of £35,800;
  • The applicant has not had absences out of the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 consecutive months;
  • The applicant has met the English language requirement and passed the Life in the UK test.

Note, settlement as an International Sportsperson can now include time spent on the visa’s short-term route. Previously, this was not possible.

 

Can dependants apply?

Dependants can accompany or join a person who comes to the UK on the International Sportsperson route. They include their spouses and any children who are less than 18 years old.

Dependants can also apply to settle in the UK with their main applicants, if they satisfy the requirements of the rules.

Have any questions or interested in applying for the International Sportsperson Visa?

Please feel free to call us on 01276 686 222 or submit a website enquiry and we shall get in touch.

This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.

Sherry Fitzgerald

Sherry Fitzgerald

Partner, Head of Immigration

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