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International Sportsperson Visa

International Sportsperson visas are available for a period of either 12 months or less, or for a period exceeding 12 months.

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The International Sportsperson visa is for elite sportspersons and qualified sports coaches who are recognised as being at the highest level of their sport internationally. You will need to be sponsored on a short or long-term contract and have been endorsed by an appropriate UK sports governing body.

The International Sportsperson visa provides a route to settlement for sportspersons who have been granted leave in the International Sportsperson category for a period exceeding 12 months.  All applicants may be joined or accompanied by a dependent partner and children.

Requirements for an International Sportsperson Visa

In order to qualify for an International Sportsperson visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visas & Immigration that:

  • You are aged 16 or over;
  • You have an offer of a job as a sports person from an approved sponsor that holds an International Sportsperson sponsor licence (which requires a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the role you wish to undertake);
  • You have been endorsed by an appropriate UK Sports Governing Body;
  • You genuinely intend, and are able, to undertake the role for which you are being sponsored and do not intend to undertake other employment;
  • You satisfy an English language requirement (if applying for an International Sportsperson visa for a period exceeding 12 months);
  • You have sufficient personal savings to support yourself in the UK;
  • Your application does not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal;
  • You have provided a valid TB certificate if required.

International Sportsperson Visa Endorsement by Sports Governing Body Requirement

In order to qualify for an International Sportsperson visa, you will need to secure an endorsement from an appropriate UK Sports Governing Body.  The relevant UK Sports Governing Body will need to confirm that:

  • You are internationally established at the highest level; and
  • You will make a significant contribution to the development of your sport at the highest level in the UK

You will need to be endorsed by a relevant UK Sports Governing Body before your sponsor can assign a Certificate of Sponsorship.

International Sportsperson Visa Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) Requirement

In order to obtain an International Sportsperson visa, you will need to have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship from a Home Office-approved sponsor for the job you are applying to undertake in the UK.  Your sponsor will need to have been authorised by the Home Office to sponsor your job under the International Sportsperson route.

Your sponsor will be a UK-based sporting body, sports club, events organiser or other organiser operating in the sporting sector and will hold a sports sponsor licence.  The organisation will have been endorsed by the relevant, Home Office-approved, sports governing body.   Agents and overseas-based sports clubs and organisations cannot sponsor workers on the International Sportsperson route.

Your International Sportsperson Certificate of Sponsorship will confirm information such as the details of the job and salary that has been offered to you, that you are qualified to undertake the role and that you have been endorsed by an appropriate UK Sports Governing Body.

You will need to apply for an International Sportsperson visa within the 3-month period before the start date of your job as stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship.

Financial Requirement for an International Sportsperson Visa

Unless you have been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months or your employer agrees to cover your costs during your first month in the UK (and this is confirmed on your Certificate of Sponsorship) you will need to have at least £1,270 in your bank account, held for at least 28 days, ending not more than 31 days before the date of your International Sportsperson visa application.

English Language Requirement for an International Sportsperson Visa

If you apply for an International Sportsperson visa for a period exceeding 12 months then you will need to have English language skills at level A1 on the Common European Framework of Reference for language in speaking and listening.

You will either need to be a national of a majority English-speaking country, have passed an approved English language test at the required level or have an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by Ecctis as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD.

If you wish to stay in the UK as an International Sportsperson for a period of 12 months or less then you will not need to satisfy an English language requirement.

Switching into the International Sportsperson route

If you currently have to leave to remain in another immigration category, you may extend your stay in the UK by switching to the International Sportsperson route unless you have, or were last granted, permission as a Visitor (unless visiting the UK as a sportsperson carrying out permitted sports activities, in which case switching is possible), Short-term student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household or outside the Immigration Rules.

Duration of an International Sportsperson Visa

If you apply for an International Sportsperson visa for a period of 12 months or less and your application is successful you will be permitted to enter and remain in the UK for either the period of employment stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship plus 14 days or 12 months, whichever is the shorter.

If you apply for an International Sportsperson visa for a period of more than 12 months and your application is successful you will be permitted to enter and remain in the UK for either the period of employment stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship plus 14 days or 3 years, whichever is shorter.

Conditions of Stay on an International Sportsperson Visa

If your International Sportsperson visa application is successful, you will be permitted to work in the job you have been sponsored for.  Supplementary employment and study will also be permitted.

You may also undertake employment as a sportsperson for your national team while it is in the UK, play in British University and College Sport (BUCS) competitions and accept temporary engagements as a sports broadcaster providing expert guest commentary on a particular sporting event.

Settlement on the International Sportsperson Route

International Sportspersons who have, at any point in the last 5 years, been granted leave as an International Sportsperson for a period exceeding 12 months, can apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain) in the UK after 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK.

Time spent in the International Sportsperson category can be combined with time spent in the Skilled Worker, Global Talent, Innovator, T2 Minister of Religion, Representative of an Overseas Business and Tier 1 (other than Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) routes.

You must not have been outside the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period during the 5 year period relied on.

Your sponsor will need to confirm that they still require you to work for them for the foreseeable future and that you are paid at least £35,800 per year.

Unless you are exempt, you will need to demonstrate English language ability on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in speaking and listening to at least level B1 and pass the Life in the UK  test.

Dependants of International Sportsperson Visa Holders

International Sportspersons may be joined or accompanied by a dependent partner over the age of 18 and/or dependent children under the age of 18.

As well as providing evidence of relationship, dependents may need to satisfy a financial requirement.  Unless they have been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months or the International Sportsperson’s employer agrees to cover their costs during their first month in the UK, the International Sportsperson – or their partner or child – will need to have £285 for a partner, £315 for one child and £200 for each additional child.  The money will need to have been held for at least 28 days, ending not more than 31 days before the date of their visa application.

In order to qualify for settlement, dependent partners of International Sportspersons need to complete 5 years of residence in the UK, with absences of no more than 180 days in any 12-month period and, unless exempt, demonstrate English language ability on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in speaking and listening to at least level B1 and pass the Life in the UK  test.

International Sportsperson Visa Processing Times

Most International Sportsperson visa applications are decided within 3 weeks.  It may be possible to secure a faster decision if the visa application centre offers a priority service.

Most applications to extend stay as an International Sportsperson are decided within 8 weeks.

International Sportsperson Visa Refusals

If your application for an International Sportsperson visa is refused, you may be able to make a fresh application or apply for Administrative Review.

International Sportsperson Visa: How Our Immigration Advisers Can Help

Our team of immigration advisers have experience in assisting elite sports persons and qualified sports coaches across a variety of sports.  Our barristers can help you to ensure that you meet your start date and that your career progression will fit your immigration goals.

We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our client’s needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to sports persons and coaches as part of a professional and friendly service.

Contact us today

Nexus Visas assists international clients in obtaining UK visas, residence and citizenship under the respective programs. Contact us to arrange an initial private consultation.

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