How to Apply for an International Sportsperson Visa
If you are an elite sportsperson or qualified sports coach, over the age of 16, and wanting to enter the UK, the International Sportsperson visa route may be of interest to you. You will need to be recognised as being at the highest level of your sport internationally. You will also need to be sponsored on a short or long-term contract and have been endorsed by an appropriate UK sports governing body.
Recently, Appendix T5 (Temporary worker) Creative or Sporting Worker, and Appendix T2 Sportsperson of the Immigration Rules were both deleted. Appendix International Sportsperson to the Immigration Rules has replaced these provisions. In addition to this, Appendix M: Sports governing bodies has been replaced by Appendix Sports Governing Bodies. This lists the sporting organisations that can issue endorsements to sportspersons or coaches.
If you wish to come to the UK as a sportsperson or coach, you must receive an endorsement from a sporting organisation listed in Appendix Sports Governing Bodies, as well as a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), from your sponsoring club.
Entry Clearance as an International Sportsperson
When you apply for entry clearance as an International Sportsperson, you must choose between two categories: entry clearance for 12 months or less, or, between 12 months and 3 years.
If you decide that you want to opt for the longer period of between 12 months and 3 years, you must be able to demonstrate that you can meet an English language requirement. This is level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for language in speaking and listening, as it was previously.
For both periods, you must demonstrate that you have received an endorsement, have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), and meet a financial requirement. Your CoS issued by your sponsoring club must indicate whether the CoS has been assigned for the shorter period, or the longer period.
If you enter the UK as an International Sportsperson having been granted entry clearance for the shorter period of time, you can extend your period of stay to the longer period, if you can demonstrate that you have met the English language requirement. If you choose to do this, you will also need a new CoS and endorsement. You can make this extension application as an International Sportsperson from within the UK.
Can I Enter the UK as an International Sportsperson Without a Visa?
Previously, under a sporting concession, you could be granted entry clearance for up to 3 months, at the border, providing you had both your endorsement and CoS with you. This concession was recently abolished, and therefore if you are a sportsperson based outside of the UK, you must make an application for an International Sportsperson visa before travelling to the UK. Whilst this could be problematic for sportspersons or clubs wanting to come to the UK for a short period only, it is important to note that you can still enter the UK as a visitor and some sports related activities are permitted under this route. You can then switch into the International Sportsperson route from within the UK.
If you make an application under the International Sportsperson route online as an EU citizen, you can use the UK Immigration: ID Check app, and upon being granted, you will be given a digital immigration status. If you are from outside of the EU, apply online, and are successful, you will be given a biometric residence permit, if your leave is valid for longer than 6 months.
Can I Settle In the UK Under the International Sportsperson Visa Route?
There is now no limit on how long you can stay in the UK on the International Sportsperson visa route. Previously, there was a 6 year limit on the visa under the T2 Sportsperson route, and the limit was 12 months under the T5 Sportsperson route.
If you do want to settle under this route, there are a number of requirements that must be met. Firstly, you must be paid at least £35,800 per year. Whilst this may seem high for certain categories of sportspersons, it is important to note that there is no limit on the length of time you can stay in the UK under this route. Therefore, if you do not quite meet this financial requirement, you can continue extending your visa, for as long as you need.
What if I Am on the Old T2 or T5 Sportsperson Route?
If you are on the previous T2 or T5 routes, any time spent in the UK within these categories can be counted towards your five years needed to qualify for settlement as an International Sportsperson.
If you are a sponsor licence holder, and you held a sponsor licence for the previous T2 or T5 routes, this will have automatically been transferred to the new system. You will see that your sponsor management systems no longer show two categories of T2 and T5, but, rather, all certificates are listed under the heading “International Sportsperson”.
If you are currently in the UK under the previous T2 or T5 routes, your visa will not be affected by any of these changes, and there is no need to do anything. When you are due to extend your visa, you can transition into the new route.
Contact our Specialist Sports Immigration Barristers
For expert advice and assistance in relation to an International Sportsperson Visa application, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via the enquiry form below.