What is the UK Sportsperson Visa?
The UK Sportsperson Visa (T2) is a form of long-term skilled worker visa that allows eligible applicants to come and work in the UK in sports work at the highest levels.
It was formerly known as the Tier 2 (Sportsperson) Visa.
You must be able to prove the following in order to apply for a Sportsperson visa:
- You are an elite sportsperson or qualified coach
- You must be recognised by your sport’s governing body as a person at the highest level of your profession internationally
- You have the endorsement of your sport’s governing body
- The purpose of your employment will be to make a contribution to the development (or make a significant contribution to the development) of the sport in the UK at a high level
- You meet all other eligibility criteria
If your application is successful, you will normally be granted a period of stay of up to three years.
What are the Sportsperson Visa requirements?
There are a number of eligibility requirements. One of the primary requirements is that you have a formal job offer from an approved sporting organisation holding a valid sponsor licence.
This visa category falls under the UK’s new points-based system whereby you must achieve a minimum of 70 points to be considered eligible.
The bulk of the points can be gained by receiving your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from your sponsor. This will give you 50 points and proves that you are in receipt of a job offer from an approved employer.
Unlike other categories, there is a lower level of English language proficiency required. Applicants must show they have a very basic level of English speaking and listening (A1 level on the CEFR scale). Providing evidence of this ability will score the applicant a further 10 points.
Another requirement for this category is the maintenance requirement. The applicant should be able to show that they have at least £1,270 in their bank account for a continuous period of at least 28 days prior to the date of application.
How to apply for the Sportsperson Visa
To apply, you should prepare all the documents and evidence required and submit your application online.
For the majority of people, the application process will include the following steps:
- Obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer or the governing body of your sport
- Complete the online visa application at the Gov.uk website
- Pay the fee for the application and submit the required documents
- If relevant to your circumstances, you may need to submit evidence of a clean tuberculosis test
- Attend an appointment at a Visa Application Centre to provide your biometric information (facial photograph and fingerprints)
- Submit this information with the rest of your application, along with any other required documents
- Wait for your application to be approved before booking travel to the UK
What are the conditions of stay?
As with all immigration applications, there are stringent rules you must follow if your application is accepted. These include the following:
- You may work for your sponsor doing work as outlined in your Certificate of Sponsorship
- In some cases, you may be allowed to take a second job with limits as to the length of time per week you can spend on this job
- You may play for your national sports team in the UK
- You have permission to study
- You can travel outside and then return to the UK
- You are not entitled to public funds
- You must not start working before your visa has been issued
You can also apply to bring dependents to the UK (partner or dependent children). You will have to show evidence of your ability to support your dependents (£630 per person).
If you meet the eligibility criteria, you can apply to extend it for another three years. Following this, you will be required to leave the UK when the visa has expired. However, if you are earning a gross salary of £35,800, you can apply to extend it again.
Application fee and waiting time
In order to apply for a Sportsperson Visa, you can expect to pay an application fee of £610 if applying outside the UK. For each dependent, they will also have to pay a fee of £610.
If you are extending or switching to this visa while already in the UK, there is a cost of £704, and the same cost for any or all dependents.
It is also a requirement to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge.
The majority of applicants will receive a decision on their application within three weeks from the date of application (when applying outside the UK).
It is possible to receive a faster decision if you pay an additional fee for the priority decision service. If you pay £500, you can get a decision within five working days, while if you pay £800, you can receive a decision within one working day from the date of submission of your biometric information.
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Individuals who can apply for a visa include those who are recognised as highly performing individuals in a sport (either players/ participants or coaches) and have been endorsed by the sport’s governing body as an elite performer, established at the highest levels.
The visa allows individuals to come to the UK and contribute to the development of that sport.
In most cases, you can extend the Sportsperson Visa for up to a maximum of six years. There are some exceptions to these rules based on your earnings.