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UK Visa & Immigration Routes for Sportspersons

The UK has a range of immigration routes that provide both temporary and long-term opportunities for international sports persons to participate in sporting activities in the UK.

The main immigration routes open to international sports persons are:

Standard Visitor Route

If you are an international sports person travelling to the UK for a short trip for which you will not be paid, you may be able to undertake certain sports activities under the visitor immigration rules.  

A sportsperson visiting the UK may undertake the following activities:

  • Take part in a sports tournament or sports event as an individual or part of a team; 
  • Make personal appearances and take part in promotional activities; 
  • Take part in trials provided they are not in front of a paying audience; 
  • Take part in short periods of training provided they are not being paid by a UK sporting body; 
  • Join an amateur team or club to gain experience in a particular sport if they are an amateur in that sport.

In order to enter the UK under the visitor immigration rules, the sporting activity must be unpaid (except for reasonable expenses to cover the cost of travel and subsistence and prize money) and you must intend to stay in the UK for less than 6 months.

Personal or technical staff of a sports person who are employed to work for the sports person outside the UK may also enter the UK as visitors provided they are attending the same event as the sports person in order to support the permitted activity.

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen travelling to the UK to carry out any of the above non-paid activities and your stay will last less than 6 months then you do not need to apply for a visa before travelling.  

Similarly, if you are a non-visa national travelling to the UK for less than 6 months then you can undertake the above-mentioned unpaid sports activities under the visitor immigration rules, without a visa.  

However, if you are a national or citizen of a country or territorial entity listed in Immigration Rules Appendix Visitor: Visa national list then you will need to apply for a visit visa prior to travelling to the UK as a visitor.

Permitted Paid Engagement Route

If you are a professional sports person aged 18 or over and you have been invited by a sports organisation, agent or broadcaster based in the UK to come to the UK for a short paid engagement lasting not more than 1 month then you may be able to enter the UK under the Permitted Paid Engagement route.

The paid engagement must be arranged before you travel to the UK and evidenced by a formal invitation.  It must also relate to your area of expertise and occupation overseas and last not more than 1 month.

Personal or technical staff of a sports person who are employed to work for the sports person outside the UK may also enter the UK to support a sports person who is undertaking a paid engagement.

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen travelling to the UK to carry out a permitted paid engagement then you do not need to apply for a visa before travelling.  

Similarly, if you are a non-visa national travelling to the UK to carry out a permitted paid engagement then you can undertake the paid engagement without needing to apply for a visa.  

However, if you are a national or citizen of a country or territorial entity listed in Immigration Rules Appendix Visitor: Visa national list then you will need to apply for a Permitted Paid Engagement visa prior to travelling to the UK.

Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visa (T5) Concession

The Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visa (T5) is open to sports persons of all ages who have been offered temporary work in the sporting sector in the UK.

If you are not a national or citizen of a country or territorial entity listed in Immigration Rules Appendix Visitor: Visa national list (i.e. you are an EU, EEA and Swiss citizen or other non-visa national) and the total length of your paid engagement or engagements in the UK will be 3 months or less then you may qualify to travel to the UK without a visa and can instead ask for permission to enter when you arrive at the UK border under the Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visa (T5) concession.  

In order to enter the UK without a visa via the Sporting Worker concession you will need to have a job offer and be recognised as someone who can make a significant contribution to your sport at the highest level in the UK.

You will need to have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship from an approved sponsor for the T5 (Temporary Worker) Creative or Sporting Worker route.  

Your sponsor must also have had an endorsement for you from the appropriate UK sports governing body under Appendix M before assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship.  This endorsement will need to confirm both that:

  • you (the player or coach) are internationally established at the highest level and/or will make a significant contribution to the development of your sport at the highest level in the UK; and
  • the role could not be filled by a settled worker.

If you are a national or citizen of a country or territorial entity listed in Immigration Rules Appendix Visitor: Visa national list or the total length of your paid engagement or engagements will be more than 3 months then you will not qualify for the concession and will instead need to apply for a Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visa (T5) or Sportspersons visa (T2) before travelling to the UK.

Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visa (T5)

If you do not qualify for the Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visa (T5) concession but have been offered a short-term contract (up to 12 months) to work in the sporting sector in the UK then you may still be able to work in the UK as a sportsperson temporarily by applying for a Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visa (T5) before you travel to the UK.

The Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visa (T5) is open to sports persons of all ages who have been offered temporary work in the sporting sector in the UK.

Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visas (T5) are valid for up to 12 months. Sporting Workers are not able to apply to extend their stay and do not qualify directly for settlement.  However, Sporting Workers can switch into the T2 Sportsperson route, which can lead to settlement.

You will need to have a job offer and be recognised as someone who can make a significant contribution to your sport at the highest level in the UK.

You will need to have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship from an approved sponsor for the T5 (Temporary Worker) Creative or Sporting Worker route.  

Your sponsor must also have had an endorsement for you from the appropriate UK sports governing body under Appendix M before assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship.  This endorsement will need to confirm both that:

  • you (the player or coach) are internationally established at the highest level and/or will make a significant contribution to the development of your sport at the highest level in the UK; and
  • the role could not be filled by a settled worker.

There is no English language requirement.

If you are applying for entry clearance from outside the UK or have been in the UK for less than one year at the date of application, you must show that you have enough funds to support yourself and any family members in the UK.  Your sponsor may be able to certify that this requirement is met.

If the total length of your paid engagement will be more than 12 months then you will need to apply for a Sportspersons visa (T2) before you travel instead.

Sportspersons visa (T2)

If you are an elite sportsperson or qualified coach aged over 16 who is sponsored on a long-term contract then you may be able to come to the UK on a T2 Sportsperson visa.  If you are outside the UK you will need to apply for a T2 Sportsperson visa before you travel.

You will need to be recognised and endorsed by your sport’s UK governing body as being at the highest level of your professional internationally.  Your employment will also need to make a significant contribution to the development of your sport at the highest level in the UK. There is no requirement to show that the post could not be filled by a settled worker.

You will also need a Certificate of Sponsorship from an organisation that holds a valid T2 Sportsperson sponsor licence.  This will be a UK-based sporting body, sports club, events organiser or other organiser operating, or intending to operate, in the sporting sector that has been endorsed by a Home Office-approved sports governing body.  

You will need have English language skills at level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for language in speaking and listening.

If you are applying for entry clearance from outside the UK or have been in the UK for less than one year at the date of application, you must show that you have enough funds to support yourself and any family members in the UK.  Your sponsor may be able to certify that this requirement is met.

T2 Sportsperson visas are valid for up to 3 years initially.  Sportsperson visa (T2) holders can extend their stay up to a maximum period of 6 years and qualify for settlement after 5 years.

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.

SEE HOW OUR IMMIGRATION BARRISTERS CAN HELP YOU

To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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