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T2 and T5 Sports Visa Routes - What’s the difference?

As we discussed in our earlier post, the UK has a range of immigration routes for sports persons seeking to participate in sporting activities in the UK on either a temporary or long-term basis.  Among the UK immigration routes for sportspersons are the Sportsperson Visa (T2) and the Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting Visa (T5).   Although these two sports routes share some similarities, there are also some important differences.  We examine the main differences between the T2 and T5 Sports Visa Routes in this post.

Entry clearance requirement

If you are outside the UK and wish to enter the UK as a Tier 2 Sportsperson then you will need to apply for and be granted a Sportsperson Visa (T2) before you travel.  A visa application will be necessary regardless of your nationality or intended length of stay in the UK. 

Although most sports workers on the Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting Visa (T5) route also need to apply for a visa, the Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting Visa (T5) route incorporates a special concession whereby non-visa national T5 sports workers can travel to the UK without a visa for up to 3 months.  Qualifying sports persons still need to meet the requirements of the route on arrival in the UK, but they do not need to apply for a visa in advance.

Switching immigration category

Sports workers who have leave to remain in the UK in another immigration category may extend their stay in the UK by switching into the Sportsperson (T2) route unless they have, or were last granted, permission as a Visitor, Short-term student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household or outside the Immigration Rules. 

Switching into the T5 Sporting Worker route on the other hand is generally not permitted. The only exception is where a sports worker has, or last had, permission as a standard visitor, has been in the UK undertaking permitted sporting activities as a standard visitor  and was assigned a valid Certificate of Sponsorship on the Creative or Sporting Worker route before they entered the UK

Age requirement

Applicants for a T2 Sportsperson Visa must be at least 16 years old at the date of their visa application.  

There is no minimum age requirement for a T5 Sporting Worker Visa application.

Under both routes applicants under the age of 18 must meet a parental consent requirement.

English language requirement

In order to qualify for a Sportsperson Visa (T2) applicants must demonstrate English language skills at level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for language in speaking and listening.

The Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting Visa (T5) has no English language requirement.

Officially-sponsored former students

If a T2 Sportsperson visa applicant has, in the last 12 months, received an award from a Government or international scholarship agency covering both fees and living costs for study in the UK, they must provide written consent for their application from the relevant Government or agency.

The T5 Sporting Worker route contains no such restriction. 

Maximum duration of stay

Sports workers can spend up to 6 years in the UK on the T2 Sportsperson route and are eligible to apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) in the UK after 5 years.  

Sports workers on the Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting Visa (T5) route are only permitted to stay in the UK for a maximum period of 12 months.   T5 Sporting Workers are not able to apply for an extension of stay or settlement.

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance with an application for an international sportsperson to enter the UK to participate in sporting activities, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.


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