UK Sports Visas for Football Clubs and Players
English Football, where the laws of the game were first codified has a reputation as one of the most exciting in the world. The Barclays Premier League is broadcast in over 200 countries to massive audiences. Revenues from Television rights have led to the professional leagues being some of the most diverse in the world with star players from across the globe coming to the UK to play.
The team at Gherson can provide sports teams and clubs with a complete range of services, from advising regarding a Home Office Sponsor Licence to negotiating the complex immigration rules when acquiring a non-EEA player.
To be eligible for a Sponsor Licence, which is required to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to a non-EEU player, a club must be a member of the FA Premier League or Football League (for enquiries relating to the SFA, FAW or IFA please contact us).
A licence is issued by the Home Office for a period of four years and will allow clubs to sponsor players/coaches under Tier 2 and Tier 5 of the Points Based System. Licences can be renewed every four years subject to the individual club continuing to meet the criteria for issue.
The issuing of a licence by the Home Office allows clubs to apply for a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) from the requisite Home Association, in this case the FA. The criteria are as follows:
- The player must have participated in at least 75% of his home country's senior competitive international matches where he has been available for selection during the two years preceding the date of the application
- The player's National Association must be at or above 70th place in the Official FIFA World Rankings when averaged over the two years preceding the date of the application
Competitive matches include but are not limited to:
- FIFA World Cup Finals match
- FIFA World Cup Qualifying match
- FIFA Confederations Cup match
- UEFA European Championship match
- UEFA European Championship Qualifying match
- African Cup of Nations match
- Copa America match
The FA charges a fee for the issue of a Governing Body Endorsement.
Duration of Visa
Please refer to Tier 2 and Tier 5 Visa information on the home page, which also provides an overview of how to extend a Visa.
The Transfer Window
A GBE can be applied for by a member club at any time, and is not subject to the same restrictions are the transfer of players registrations. The GBE will be considered against the criteria above, however once issued, the GBE must be used within 2 months so clubs and representatives should be careful to apply close to or during the two transfer windows, in the close season and over the festive period.
The Home Office have specific criteria relating to the issue of a visa for a trialist. Please contact a member of the team for further information.
Where an application does not meet the above criteria, a club is entitled to request an Appeal Panel to consider whether the player is:
- Of the highest calibre
- Whether the player can contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in England
The panel will make a recommendation following written evidence and verbal submissions of the Appellant club as to why, despite not meeting the criteria, that the player should be granted a GBE. A member of the team at Gherson can provide further information as to the types of documents required at an Appeal Panel hearing in support of an application for endorsement.
English Language Requirement
Applicants seeking Entry Clearance to the UK may require to demonstrate proficiency in English. Further information is available on request.
Womens Super League
The criteria are broadly similar to that of the men's game with one major exception:
- The player's National Association must be at or above 40th place in the Official FIFA World Rankings when averaged over the two years preceding the date of the application.