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International Sportsperson Visa

The UK International Sportsperson Visa is for sponsored international high-level sportspeople and coaches who will work to develop their sport in the UK at the elite level.

Contact our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or complete our enquiry form to discuss your UK Sports Visa application.

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What is the UK International Sportsperson visa?

The UK International Sportsperson visa is for sponsored international high-level sportspeople and coaches who will work to develop their sport in the UK at the elite level. The UK International Sportsperson visa replaced the Tier 2 Sportsperson visa and Tier 5 Creative and Sporting visas.

You will be eligible for a UK International Sportsperson visa if you are endorsed as an elite sportsperson or qualified coach at the highest level internationally by the governing body of your individual sport.

UK International Sportsperson visas are typically granted for a period of up to 3 years initially, after which you can further extend your stay as long as you remain eligible. After 5 years as an International Sportsperson visa holder, you will be eligible to apply for ILR.

As an International Sportsperson UK visa holder, you will be able to live, work for your sponsor (including a second job if you are eligible), work as a sports broadcaster, study, and travel freely in and out of the UK. You can also bring your dependant family members to join you in the UK (i.e., your partner and children).

Foreign nationals who do not meet the criteria for the International Sportsperson visa may be able to apply for a Skilled Worker visa.

UK sports visa requirements

To make a successful application, you will need to meet the UK sports visa requirements below:

  • be internationally endorsed as a player or coach at the highest levels of their sport by an approved governing body
  • hold a valid Certificate of Sponsorship UK issued by an employer with a sponsor licence
  • meet the financial requirements
  • show their travel history over the last 5 years
  • meet the English language requirements
  • be able to provide a clear tuberculosis test result if from a listed country

Endorsement requirement

UK Sports visa applicants must provide a letter of endorsement from an approved body that governs the sporting activity in their home country. The endorsement should confirm the applicant:

  • is genuinely an internationally recognised player or coach at the highest level of their sport
  • they will add significantly to the development of their sport at the highest levels

The letter should also contain a unique endorsement number beginning with an abbreviated form of the governing body (e.g., RUGU for rugby union).

Financial requirements

UK Sports visa applicants must show they have savings of at least £1,270 to support themselves in the UK. The funds must have been available in the applicant’s bank account for at least 28 days. This requirement will not apply, however, if you have already been in the UK for 12 months or more. Alternatively, your UK employer can support you by stating on your Certificate of Sponsorship the words ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’.

English language requirement

If you intend to spend more than 1 year in the UK on an International Sportsperson visa, you will need to meet the English language requirement. You can meet this requirement by either having:

  • an approved English language qualification at CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening or higher or
  • a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD taught in English

You will also meet this requirement if you are from an eligible English-speaking country1.

UK International Sportsperson visa required documents

It is important to ensure you have all the documents required for a UK International Sportsperson visa application. Below is a list of required documents needed when applying for a UK sports visa:

  • a letter of endorsement from your sport’s governing body
  • your certificate of sponsorship reference number (your employer will give you this)
  • proof of your knowledge of English
  • bank statements to prove you can support yourself in the UK (unless your certificate of sponsorship shows your employer can support you)
  • a valid passport or another document that shows your identity and nationality - you need a blank page in your passport for your visa
  • expired passports or travel documents to show your travel history
  • tuberculosis test results if you’re from a listed country

How to apply for a UK International Sportsperson visa

To apply for a UK International Sportsperson visa, you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Complete and submit the online application form2
  2. Pay the required application fee (see below)
  3. Upload any documents required to support your application (see below)
  4. Book and attend a biometric appointment at your nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC) to have your fingerprints scanned and a photo taken

International Sportsperson visa applications typically take 3 weeks to process. You may be able to pay an extra fee to have your application processed faster.

UK International Sportsperson visa cost

International Sportsperson visa applicants are required to pay the following fees:

  • Application fee - £259 if staying less than 12 months or £625 if staying longer than 12 months
  • Healthcare surcharge (provides access to the UK’s National Health Service – NHS) - £624 per year for adults and £470 per year for children

International Sportsperson visa to ILR

Those who have held an international sportsperson visa and lived in the UK for over 5 years may be eligible for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), also referred to as settlement in the UK. The International Sportsperson visa ILR requirements state that applicants must:

  • Have held their international sportsperson visa for at least 5 years
  • Have lived in the UK lawfully during their 5 years in the UK
  • Meet the continuous residence requirement – this means they must not have lived outside the UK for more than 180 days in any consecutive year
  • Meet the English language requirement
  • Pass the Life in the UK test

A person with ILR is able to live permanently in the UK without being subject to immigration control. They can also work, study, and travel freely as a settled person. After a further 12 months, it is possible for a person with ILR to apply for British citizenship.

International Sportsperson visa extension

As an International Sportsperson UK visa holder, you can apply3 to further extend your visa for another 3 years as long as you continue to meet the same eligibility requirements you met when you were last granted your leave under this route. It is essential to apply for an international sportsperson visa renewal before your current visa expires.

To make a successful international sportsperson visa extension application, you will need to have your endorsement renewed and a new Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer.

Extension applications cost £719 per person and can take up to 8 weeks to process. As long as you apply to extend your visa before it expires, you can continue to live and work in the UK while waiting for a decision from the Home Office. Your partner and children can also apply to extend their visas at the same time.

International Sportsperson visa dependants

If your International Sportsperson visa application is successful, you will also be able to bring your dependant family members with you to the UK. You can bring your partner if you are married, in a civil partnership, or you have been together in a relationship for at least 2 years. If your children are 16 years or older, you will need to show they are dependant on you and not living an independent life. This means they must be living with you (unless they live away for education), and you financially support them. They must also not be married to be considered a dependant.

When applying4 for your dependants, you will need to show you have sufficient funds for their needs:

  • £285 for your partner
  • £315 for your first child
  • £200 for each additional child

It is important to include your visa application number (i.e., Global Web Form or Unique Application Number) on your dependant’s visa applications.

References

1 GOV.UK: Knowledge of English

2 GOV.UK: Online application form

3 GOV.UK: Visa extension application

4 GOV.UK: Application for partner and children

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