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SPORTS VISIT VISA

The Sports Visit Visa is for amateur and professional sportspersons (individuals and teams), technical or support staff of sportspersons and sports officials who wish to visit the UK to undertake permitted unpaid sporting activities for a period of up to 6 months.

The Sports Visit Visa is a sub-category of the Standard Visitor route, which is a route for persons who wish to visit the UK for a temporary period of up to 6 months.  

The route does not lead to settlement in the UK and all visitors must make a separate application, even when travelling as part of a group.

Requirements for a Sports Visit Visa

In order to qualify for a Sports Visit Visa you will need to satisfy UK Visas & Immigration that:

  • You are a visa national (a non-visa national can normally seek entry as a Visitor on arrival at the UK border);
  • You are genuinely seeking entry to the UK for a purpose that is permitted by the visitor routes;
  • You will not undertake any prohibited activities;
  • You have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs in relation to your visit (including travel, maintenance and accommodation costs) without working or accessing public funds;
  • You will leave the UK at the end of your visit;
  • You will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK your main home;
  • Your application does not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal;
  • You have obtained an Electronic Travel Authorisation, if required.

The exact requirements you will need to satisfy may vary depending on your circumstances.  You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.

Visa National Requirement

A visa national is someone who, by reason of their nationality, requires a Visit Visa in order to enter the UK as a Visitor.  Visa nationals must generally apply for a Visit Visa before travelling to the UK.

The Home Office has published a list of nationalities that are required to apply for a Visit Visa prior to travelling to the UK as a Visitor.  The list includes a number of exceptions, which allow certain visa nationals to seek entry as a Visitor on arrival in the UK.

A non-visa national can normally seek entry as a Visitor on arrival in the UK.   A non-visa national must still satisfy the requirements for entry as a Visitor and so, on arrival, should be prepared to explain, for example, the purpose of their visit and how they will be maintained and accommodated in the UK, as well as their return travel arrangements. 

EU citizens are non-visa nationals and can seek entry as a Visitor on arrival in the UK without needing to apply for a Visit Visa.

As well as preparing Visit Visa applications for visa nationals, our barristers regularly assist non-visa nationals to satisfy the requirements for entry as a Visitor on arrival in the UK.

Visit Visa for Sportspersons

Sports Visit Visas are available to both amateur and professional sportspersons.  However, in common with other Visitor routes, Sports Visitors may not receive payment from a UK source for any activities undertaken in the UK.

If you are being employed as a professional sportsperson by a team based in the UK then the Sports Visit Visa is not an appropriate immigration route and you should apply for an International Sportsperson Visa instead.

The Home Office treats professional sportspersons who participate in professional domestic championships or leagues as employed, whether they are paid or unpaid.

Amateur sportspersons applying to join an amateur team or club to gain experience in a particular sport will need to satisfy the Home Office that they are genuinely an amateur joining a genuinely amateur team or club.

Personal and Technical Staff

Personal or technical staff of the sportsperson who are attending the same event as the sportsperson can also qualify for a Sports Visit Visa, provided they are employed to work for the sportsperson outside the UK. Examples include, but are not limited to, physiotherapists, coaches, dieticians, bodyguards and press officers.

Sports Officials

Sports officials who are supporting a sports tournament or sports event in the UK can also qualify for a Sports Visit Visa.  They may be attending the same event as a sports person who is undertaking permitted sporting activities or they may be invited by a sports organisation, agent, or broadcaster based in the UK. Examples include, but are not limited to, lines people and umpires.

  • UK Visa & Immigration Routes for Sportspersons

Sports Visit Visa Permitted Activities 

In order to qualify for a Sports Visit Visa you will need to satisfy UK Visas & Immigration that you are genuinely seeking entry to the UK for a purpose that is permitted by the visitor routes and will not undertake any prohibited activities.

Sportspersons may undertake the following permitted sporting activities with permission as a Sports Visitor:

  • 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.

Because the Sports Visit Visa is a sub-category of the Standard Visitor route, Sports Visitors may also undertake other activities that are permitted under the Standard Visitor route.

Intention to Leave the UK Requirement for a Sports Visit Visa

In addition to satisfying the Home Office that you are genuinely seeking to enter the UK for a permitted purpose and that you satisfy the additional eligibility requirements, as part of your application for a Sports Visit Visa you will also need to satisfy the Home Office that you will leave the UK at the end of your visit and will not live in the UK for extended periods through frequent or successive visits, or make the UK your main home.

In assessing your application, the Home Office will consider a range of factors including:

  • Your previous immigration history, including visits to the UK and other countries;
  • Your financial circumstances as well as your family, social and economic background;
  • Your personal and economic ties to your country of residence.

Factors which may cause the Home Office to doubt that you are a genuine visitor include having few or no family and economic ties to your country of residence, whilst having several family members in the UK, previous attempts to deceive the Home Office in an immigration application and discrepancies between statements made by yourself and your sponsor.

Sports Visit Visa Financial Requirement

You will need to have sufficient funds to cover all reasonable costs in relation to your visit (including travel, maintenance and accommodation costs) without working or accessing public funds.

Your funds will need to be held in a permitted financial institution.

Your travel, maintenance and accommodation costs may be met by a third party if the third party has a genuine professional or personal relationship with you, they are not, and will not be, in breach of immigration laws and they can support you throughout the duration of your stay as a Visitor.

Sports Visit Visa English Language Requirement

Sports Visit Visa applicants do not need to satisfy an English language requirement.

Sports Visit Visa Validity Period

If you wish to enter the UK for the purpose of a Sports Visit you may apply for a Visit Visa that is valid for either 6 months, 2 years, 5 years or 10 years.  

You may enter and leave the UK multiple times during the validity period of your Visit Visa, unless your Visit Visa is endorsed for a single or dual entry.

Each visit to the UK must not exceed 6 months.

Sports Visit Visa Right to Work

Sports Visitors are not permitted to work in the UK or, with few exceptions, receive payment from a UK source for any activities undertaken in the UK.

This means that Sports Visitors cannot take employment, establish or run a business as a self-employed person, work for an organisation or business in the UK, undertake a work placement or internship in the UK or otherwise provide or sell goods or services in the UK.

Sports Visitors are permitted to undertake activities relating to their employment overseas remotely whilst they are in the UK, such as responding to emails or answering phone calls.  However, the main purpose of your visit to the UK should be to undertake a permitted activity, rather than specifically to work remotely from the UK.

Sports Visitors are also permitted to come to the UK to seek employment and attend job interviews. However, if successful in obtaining employment, you will be expected to leave the UK and seek the appropriate entry clearance prior to commencing work.

If you wish to work in the UK you should consider applying for an International Sportsperson Visa instead.

Sports Visit Visa Application Fees

The Home Office application fee for a Sports Visit Visa for a short stay of up to 6 months is currently £100.

If you wish to apply for a Sports Visit Visa that is valid for either 2 years, 5 years or 10 years then the Home Office application fee will be £376, £670 or £837 respectively.

How Our Immigration Barristers Can Help

Our immigration barristers are experienced in assisting amateur and professional sportspersons, technical and support staff of sportspersons and sports officials to secure visas to visit the UK.

Whether you are seeking advice on the merits of applying for a Sports Visit Visa, assistance with preparing a Sports Visit Visa application or legal representation to challenge a decision to refuse an application for a Sports Visit Visa, our immigration barristers can assist.

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 our clients as part of a professional and friendly service.

 

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