What is an International Sportsperson visa?
An International Sportsperson visa is for elite sportspeople and coaches who are internationally established and whose employment will help to make a significant contribution to the development of their sport in the UK. Individuals who wish to apply for the UK Sportsperson Visa must be established at the highest level of their sport.
Who is eligible for an International Sportsperson Visa?
To be eligible for an International Sportsperson Visa, you must be endorsed by the appropriate sports governing body to confirm that you meet the necessary criteria. The endorsement will confirm that:
You are internationally recognised at the highest level for your sport
You will make a significant contribution to the development of your sport
Each sport has its own governing body with specific endorsement criteria, and we can assist you to identify the correct body and navigate their endorsement procedures.
Required documents for a Sportsperson Visa application
To apply for a sportsperson visa, you must be able to provide:
A valid passport or equivalent travel document
Your Certificate of Sponsorship reference number
Evidence of how you meet the English language requirement
Evidence of how you meet the maintenance requirement
A letter of endorsement from your sport’s governing body
Additional documents may be required depending on the country you will be applying from (or the visa you will be switching from, if applicable), or if your family members are applying with you as your dependants.
Speak to an immigration lawyer
The International Sportsperson Visa Application Process
How to apply for an International Sportsperson Visa
To apply for an International Sportsperson Visa, you must make an online application.
During the Sportsperson application you will need to pay the appropriate fees (including the immigration healthcare surcharge) and provide the relevant documents.
How much does it cost to apply for a Sportsperson Visa?
The fee depends on how long you want to stay. Please see below for a full, updated breakdown of UK International Sportsperson Visas (Correct at the time of writing - 4th October 2023
If you’re staying up to 12 months, the fee is £298 per person.
If you’re staying for longer than 12 months, the fee depends on whether you’re:
applying outside the UK - £719 per person
applying inside the UK to extend or switch - £827 per person
You will also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS).
Optional premium services such as priority processing are available at an additional cost.
Can you extend the International Sportsperson Visa?
Sportsperson migrants may apply for a visa for up to 3 years, with the option to extend for up to an additional 3 years. Individuals are unable to extend their total stay beyond 6 years but may be eligible to apply for ‘indefinite leave to remain’ after 5 years of continuous residence in the UK.
Can you switch to the International Sportsperson Visa?
If you are in the UK on another visa, you may be eligible to switch to the International Sportsperson Visa. To be eligible to switch to this visa you must meet the following requirements:
You meet the eligibility requirements; and
You are in the UK on an eligible visa.
If you are currently in the UK on a Student Visa, in addition to the eligibility requirements you must meet one of the following:
Completed the course you were sponsored to study; or
The start date of your job is after your course has finished; or
Studied for a PhD for at least 24 months.
If you are in the UK on one of the following you cannot apply to switch to this visa.
A Visit Visa;
A short-term Student Visa;
A Parent of a Child Student Visa;
A Seasonal Worker Visa;
A Domestic Worker in a Private Household Visa;
On immigration bail; or
You were given permission to stay outside the immigration rules.
Instead, you must make an application for an International Sportsperson Visa from abroad.
How can Paragon Law help?
Requirements under worker categories are very prescriptive. It is important to ensure your application is prepared carefully so that small errors do not result in your application being refused.
Our expert solicitors have experience handling UK work visas in all categories, and we will work with you towards a positive outcome. We can support through all stages of this visa route, including:
- Individual endorsement applications for players and coaches
- Individual visa applications to confirm the right to live and work in the UK
- Sponsor licence and endorsement applications for clubs and organisations
- Ongoing management of the sponsor licence, including the reporting of migrant activity and any changes to sponsor/migrant details
- Advisory service in relation to existing immigration processes
- UKVI compliance and right to work checks
International Sportsperson Visa: FAQs
A UK club or organisation is looking to sponsor me. What do I need?
To sponsor you as a Sportsperson, the club or organisation will need a sponsor licence. Qualifying organisations are sporting bodies, clubs, event organisers, or another organiser operating or intending to work in the sporting sector. The organisation will need to be endorsed by the relevant sporting body before it can offer sponsorship to you.
Can you extend the Sportsperson Visa?
Yes, the Sportsperson Visa can be extended. Sportsperson migrants may apply for a visa for up to 3 years, with the option to extend for up to an additional 3 years. Migrants are unable to extend their total stay beyond 6 years but may be eligible to apply for ‘indefinite leave to remain’ after 5 years of continuous residence in the UK.
How long does it take to extend my application?
Processing times will depend on the chosen method of submission. Standard applications can take up to 8 weeks, whereas priority applications can be processed in as little as 24 hours.
Can I bring my dependents with me with the International Sportsperson Visa?
Individuals with an International Sportsperson Visa are able to bring their dependents (partner and children) to the UK with them (providing they are eligible). If dependents make a successful application, then they will be able to work in the UK full-time and their visa will end on the same date as the main applicant (the individual with the International Sportsperson Visa).
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