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Sportsperson Visa

07 March 2019 #Immigration

Who can apply?

If you are an elite sportsperson or coach who is internationally established in your sport, then you could be eligible to apply for a Tier 2 (sportsperson) visa.


  • You must make a significant contribution to the development of your sport in the UK and you must base yourself in the UK;
  • You must be from outside of the EEA and Switzerland (however this may be an option for EEA nationals post Brexit)
  • You must meet the English language requirement unless you are from a majority English speaking country (by either passing an English language test at B1 CEFR or you hold a degree that was taught or researched in English which must be equivalent to a UK Bachelor’s degree or above)

Two stage application

Step 1: Governing Body Endorsement (GBE)

If you are qualified, are internationally established and the position you are applying for cannot be filled by a settled worker, then you can apply for an endorsement from the relevant governing body. Each governing body has its own criteria to assess an applicant in each sport. A list of approved governing bodies is on the UK government’s website.

Step 2: Certificate of Sponsorship

Once you have obtained an endorsement, you can then apply for a Tier 2 sponsorship from a Sponsor who will assign you a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS). The CoS will need to be assigned within 3 months from when it is issued and can only be used once. 


The visa will be granted for a period of 3 years or the length of the contract (whichever is shorter). You can extend your visa for a further 3 years. You can also apply for settlement following 5 years of leave under this route.

Family members

Dependent family members can join you in the UK.

Certification of maintenance

An A rated Sponsor can certify maintenance for you and your family members. This means that you will not need to provide evidence that you will be able to accommodate and maintain yourselves in the UK. If the Sponsor does not certify maintenance, then you will need to show that you have at least £945 in your bank account as savings. 

Tier 5 (Temporary worker – creative and sporting)

The requirements for a Tier 5 visa are the same as Tier 2 visas, however there is no requirement to prove proficiency of English language. Further to this the Sponsor can only certify maintenance for you and not your dependent family members. Although this route is temporary and therefore your visa will only be valid for up to 12 months. Nevertheless, you are able to switch from a Tier 5 to a Tier 2 visa in-country.

Other routes

It is a common misconception that as a sportsperson, the only relevant route for you is a Tier 2 or Tier 5 sportsperson visa. However, there may be other routes available to you which you have not considered such as coming to the UK on a spouse visa or ancestry visa. It is always best to seek legal advice prior to making any application as some visa categories are more flexible than others.

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking professional and legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.


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Bhavneeta Limbachia

Bhavneeta Limbachia

E: blimbachia@clarkslegal.com
T: 020 7539 8019
M: 0788 1826 711