Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa
Strict eligibility requirements apply for professional sportspeople and coaches applying under this specialist Tier 2 category.
We can help with this complex application.
Tier 2 sportsperson visa
The Tier 2 Sportsperson visa is open to individuals coming to Britain on a temporary basis to work in a sporting role that will make an exceptional difference to their sport in the UK.
The Tier 2 sportsperson visa is a common visa route for professionals in sports such as football. It is available to international sportspersons and qualified coaches who will need to evidence recognition by their sport’s governing body that they are an elite member of their profession.
Who is eligible for a Tier 2 sportsperson visa?
To apply for a Tier 2 sportsperson visa, the individual must satisfy the following criteria:
- They must be an elite sportsperson or qualified coached recognised by their sport’s governing body as internationally established at the highest level
- The sport’s governing body must endorse their application
- Their employment must develop their sport in the United Kingdom at the highest level
- They must be from outside the EEA
- They must be aged 16 or over.
In addition to the above, the standard Tier 2 requirements will also be applied:
- They have a confirmed offer of employment from a sports organisation with a valid Tier 2 sponsorship licence.
- They must have a valid certificate of sponsorship issued by the sponsoring organisation.
- They must score 70 points under the points-based system, comprising 50 points for holding a valid CoS, 10 points for meeting the English language requirement and 10 points for meeting the financial maintenance requirement.
The organisation must be a genuine sports organisation with a genuine need to employ non-EEA sportspersons or coaches in the UK.
For the CoS to be valid for a Tier 2 (Sportsperson) it must also include a governing body endorsement reference number for the applicant to show the organisation obtained endorsement from the relevant Home Office recognised governing body for their sport prior to applying to the Home Office for a sponsor licence.
The recognised body must also be satisfied that it is appropriate to fill the post with an individual from outside of the EEA.
What will applicants need to show to apply for a Tier 2 visa?
You will need to evidence your eligibility by providing a range of supporting documents. This will include, among others depending on the circumstances of your application:
- Your certificate of sponsorship
- The letter of endorsement from your sport’s governing body
- Suitability for the role
- An ‘appropriate’ salary for the role
- Proof of knowledge of the English language
- Evidence you meet the financial requirement such as a bank statement covering the required period
- Your valid passport and any expired passports and travel documents that show your travel history
- TB test results, if applicable
What is the financial requirement?
Applicants have to show they have £945 in savings unless their maintenance is certified by their A-rated employer that they won’t claim public funds.
To be able to rely on the funds for your application, you will need to show these funds have been in your bank account consistently for at least 3 months.
The funding requirement may not apply where the applicant is already in the UK and one of the following applies:
- Holders of any other category of Tier 2 visa
- Employees of a Jewish agency
- Ground staff employed by an airline based outside of the UK
- Religious workers (with a pre-existing visa), including ministers, missionaries, and religious order members
- Workers employed by a media organisation – such as a newspaper or television news station – based outside of the UK
- Work permit holders
What is the English language requirement?
In most cases, this is evidenced either by having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD or passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening, unless certain specific circumstances apply.
Nationals of the following countries are exempt from the language requirement and will not need to prove their knowledge of English:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- the Bahamas
- New Zealand
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Lucia
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
Applying for a Tier 2 visa with dependants
As is the case with all Tier 2 migrants, sportsperson visa holders can apply to bring their dependents with them. A dependant could include a spouse or partner and children under 18. Children over 18 can apply to remain in the UK as their dependent if the child is already in the UK as a dependent.
Each dependant must have £630 available to him or her when they apply in addition to the £945 mentioned above. If the sponsor is certifying maintenance, they can also do this for the dependants.
Paying the Immigration Health Surcharge
It is very important to note that the immigration health surcharge (IHS) is payable as part of these applications. Dependants also have to pay the IHS.
Once you get to the UK
With the visa, you will be given up to 3 years valid leave in the UK, with the option of extending for a further 3 years, and provided your total stay is not more than 6 years. The extension must be made before your current visa expires.
The visa will be multi entry so they will be permitted to travel abroad and return to the United Kingdom during its validity.
You may be eligible to apply for UK indefinite leave to remain after 5 years in the Tier 2 Sportsperson category, or by combining time spent in the UK under other qualifying immigration routes.
If you don’t apply to extend the visa, you will have to leave the UK on expiry and can only apply for this visa again if either 12 months have passed and your previous certificate of sponsorship was granted for less than 3 months or you can show you will be paid a gross annual salary of £159,600 or more.
What visa holders can and can’t do
The freedom to do other things in the United Kingdom is very wide under this category. As a Tier 2 sportsperson visa holder, provided the activity does not interfere with the job you have been sponsored to do, you would be permitted to:
- Take on a second job
- Play for your national team
- Work as a sports broadcaster
- Do voluntary work
However, you would not be permitted to:
- Start or run a business
- Apply for your second job until your have started working for your sponsor; and
- Access public funds
The applicant must also not own more than 10 per cent of the shares, directly or indirectly, of the sponsoring organisation if it is a limited company.
It is important to note that if the player wants to do a second job that is in a different sector, they will need to make a new application to the Home Office. If the job is 20 hours or less and on the shortage list, there is no need to make a new application. Even a single hour over this will constitute the need for a new application.
Switching into Tier 2
Tier 2 Sportsperson is a category that does allow you to switch. You will need to apply before your current visa expires.
Switching is permissible where the individual meets the Tier 2 requirements and is currently in the UK with valid leave to remain under one of the following:
- Tier 1 visa
- Tier 4 visa – if you have an eligible qualification or you’ve done at least 12 months of a PhD
- Tier 5 (Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting) for a job as a professional footballer
- Start-up visa
- Innovator visa
- Tier 4 dependant
- Representative of an overseas business
If you are in the UK under a different route to the above, you will need to leave the UK and make your application for a Tier 2 sportsperson visa from overseas.
Unless exempt, a person cannot apply for Entry Clearance in Tier 2 Sportsperson if they have had Entry Clearance or leave to remain in any Tier 2 category at any time during the 12 months immediately before the date of their application, unless they can provide evidence to satisfy the Home Office that they were not physically in the UK during this period.
The only exemptions from the ‘cooling-off period’ are for those who were not in the UK with leave as a Tier 2 migrant during this period and provide evidence to show this, or were only in the UK as a Tier 2 migrant during the last 12 months for a short period or periods with a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) which was assigned for 3 months or less or will earn a gross annual salary of £159,600 or higher
Providing biometric information and supporting documents
After completing your online application form, you will need to either submit your supporting documents online or use the digital scanning service during your UKVCAS appointment. You will be invited to arrange the appointment once you have submitted your application form.
During the appointment, you will also be asked to provide your biometric inforamtion (finger prints and photograph) and submit your supporting documents.
Tier 2 visa processing times
Tier 2 sportsperson visa applications are typically processeds within 8 weeks under the standard service or within 5 working days of your UKVCAS appointment under the priority service.
The super priority service is quicker still, with a decision being made by the end of the next working day after your UKVCAS appointment if your appointment is on a weekday, or 2 working days after your UKVCAS appointment if your appointment is at the weekend.
Working days are Monday to Friday, not including bank holidays.
In some cases, processing may take longer than the guidelines if you are asked to attend a visa interview, if there are issues with the supporting documentation, for example something needs to be verified, or if the application is relatively complex.
While your applicaiton is being processed, you will need to remain in the UK. Travelling outside the UK could result in your application being considered withdrawn.
Refused Tier 2 visa
In the world of professional sports, a Tier 2 visa refusal is best avoided. Refused visas delay schedules and start dates, costing time and money.
If you have received a refusal, take advice as soon as possible on the options open to you. You may be able to challenge the decision or reapply, depending on your circumstances and the grounds for refusal.
How we can help
The Tier 5 Sportsperson visa is a critical route for UK sports, relied on both by professional athletes through to experienced trainers and coaches.
Avoid a delayed or refused application and take advice on your Tier 2 application. Are you eligible? What will your application need to say and show? What evidence do you need to compile? Is this the best route for your circumstances and needs?
DavidsonMorris are UK immigration lawyers experienced in helping professional sportspeople and their families make successful Home Office applications. Our team of immigration specialists provide advice to individuals looking to understand their UK visa options and pursue opportunities to come to Britain to continue their work in professional sports.
For advice and guidance with your application for a UK Tier 2 sportsperson visa, contact us.