The inability to work as a professional sportsperson is a condition of most UK visas.
This includes the Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme), which has previously allowed young foreign athletes in the UK to play their sport at amateur level.
In 2017 the Home Office updated the Immigration Rules to refine the definition of amateur and professional sportsperson status. There have been concerns that the updated definitions and guidance will make it harder for promising young players to come to the UK.
The Home Office now defines a professional sportsperson as “someone, whether paid or unpaid, who:
- is providing services as a sportsperson, playing or coaching in any capacity, at a professional or semi-professional level of sport; or
- being a person who currently derives, who has in the past derived or who the Secretary of State has reason to believe is seeking in the future to derive a living from playing or coaching, is providing services as a sportsperson or coach at any level of sport, unless they are doing so as an “Amateur” in a charity game”.
This means that the current definition can extend to young athletes who are involved in or have been involved in youth development squads at regional or national level overseas, or have future career aspirations in their sport. Such persons will be unable to participate in their chosen sport whilst in the UK.
Historically, the amateur sporting level, especially in cricket, has seen a regular influx of young players every year to improve their talent.
Those who would be defined as a ‘professional sportsperson’ and who wish to participate in their chosen sport whilst in the UK, even at amateur level, would need to ensure their visa permits this.
Deciding on the best visa route will be dependent on what a person will be doing in the UK, whether they are classified as a professional or an amateur, and the sport itself.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.