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UK Sportspersons Visa: Eligibility Criteria and Application

The UK sportspersons visa allows outstanding, internationally recognized athletes and coaches to work in the UK and develop their sport at the highest level.

The visa replaces and merges the Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa and the sporting component of the Tier 5 Creative and Sporting Visa, providing a simpler immigration procedure for elite sports coaches and internationally established athletes.

This article is meant to guide you on how to apply for the UK sportspersons visa and other important information like the requirements and eligibility criteria are also provided for a clearer understanding.

About UK Sportspersons Visa

The UK Sportsperson Visa is a UK Work Visa, under the UK Points Based System. It is a visa for foreign sportspersons who wish to move to the UK and are sponsored by someone in the UK.

The International Sportsperson visa, formerly known as the Tier 2 Sportsperson visa, is for top-level players and coaches who are traveling to the UK to work in a way that will help their sport’s development and whose application has been authorized by their sport’s governing body.

Before applying for this visa, workers must obtain a certificate of sponsorship from a sports organization with a current sponsor license.

UK Sportsperson visas can be obtained for a duration of up to 12 months or a period of more than 12 months.

For athletes who have been granted leave in the International Sportsperson category for more than a year, the International Sportspersons visa provides a path to settlement. Dependent Partners and children are welcome to join or accompany all applicants.

Eligibility criteria for the UK Sportsperson Visa

To be eligible for a UK Sportsperson visa, you must demonstrate to UK Visas & Immigration that you:

  1. Have a valid certificate of sponsorship for your job
  2. Usually, prove that you can speak and understand English if you’re applying to stay for longer than 12 months
  3. Have personal savings so you can support yourself when you arrive in the UK
  4. Show you can travel and your travel history over the last 5 years
  5. Have tuberculosis test results if you’re from a listed country
  6. Have an eligible qualification, if you’re switching from a student visa

1. Sponsorship certificate

A sponsorship certificate contains your personal information as well as information regarding the employment you’ve been offered.

It’s not a paper document; it’s an electronic record. Your sponsor will provide you with a sponsorship certificate with a reference number that you can include in your application.

Your certificate of sponsorship’s reference number can only be used once. It must be used within three months of receiving it.

2. Knowledge of the English language

If you plan to stay for more than a year, you may need to demonstrate your English language skills. You can demonstrate your command of the English language in one of two ways:

1. Having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognized by Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or Ph.D. passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening

2. Having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognized by Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or Ph.D.

More than that, you may be able to complete the English language requirement in other ways.


If you are a national of one of the following countries, you will not be required to demonstrate your English proficiency:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • the Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • Malta
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

3. Money to support yourself

You must have at least £1,270 in your bank account to show you can support yourself in the UK.

You will need to have had the money available for at least 28 days in a row. Day 28 must be within 31 days of applying for your visa.

You’ll usually need to show proof of this when you apply, unless either:

  • you have been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months
  • your employer can cover your costs during your first month in the UK, up to £1,270
  • Your partner and children will also need to prove they can support themselves while they’re in the UK.

4. Your Travel history

You have to show you can travel and also present your travel history over the last 5 years.

5. Medical report

You are to conduct a medical test to prove that you are tuberculosis free.

6. Qualifications

You must have eligible qualifications if you want to switch from one Visa to the other.

7. Valid Passport

Before you apply, check if your passport has at least one blank page for the visa sticker.

How to apply for the UK Sportsperson Visa

Below find a step-by-step guide on how to apply for a UK Sportsperson Visa:

Step 1: Get a certificate of sponsorship. You should get this certificate from the governing body endorsing your application.

Step 2: Fill in the application form online at the UK Government website.

Step 3: Pay the fee for your visa application. You will be able to do that online.

Step 4: Take a tuberculosis test. This applies only if you are a resident in a country where you must take the tuberculosis test.

Step 5: Provide your biometrics (fingerprints and facial photographs) at a visa application center.

Step 6: Provide the embassy/visa application center with the rest of the required documents.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

How much does a UK sportspersons visa cost?

The cost of an international sportsperson visa varies on how long they plan to stay:

A cost of £244 per person is charged for stays of up to 12 months.

A fee of £610 per person for applications filed outside the UK, or £704 per person for applications made inside the UK, for extensions or switching to another visa, is charged for stays of more than 12 months.

The annual Healthcare Surcharge is usually £624 per person.

In addition, if the applicant has not lived in the United Kingdom for 12 months or longer at the time of application, they must meet specific financial requirements.

This needs the applicant to demonstrate that they have money of at least £1,270, or their sponsor to confirm on the CoS that they have funds of at least £1,270.

How long is the UK sportsperson visa valid for?

Anyone seeking a sports visa in the United Kingdom must pick between entry clearance or permission to stay for 12 months or less, or 12 months to 3 years.

Any candidate requesting permission for a term longer than a year must additionally complete the English Language requirement.

This corresponds to Basic Proficiency on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. This is especially important for clubs that must finalize transactions quickly.

If the applicant is from Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, New Zealand, Malta, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St. Vincent, and the Grenadines, Trinidad, and Tobago, or the United States, they will not be required to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language.

3. Does the International Sportspersons Visa lead to ILR?

Previously, a sportsperson coming into the UK on a T2 visa could stay in the UK for up to six years, although T5 visas were limited to 12 months.

The recent change removes those pressures and that of having to leave the UK for failing to settle within six years.

For those international sportspeople who wish to settle and apply for ILR, they must, amongst other criteria, be paid at least £35,800 per year.

Probably, many will easily achieve this figure, however, those in lower leagues, for example, or newly emerging professional sports, are not likely to be earning such sums.

Although the salary threshold may be problematic for some and mean they may never be able to settle in the UK, since there is no limit on time spent in this category, they can continue to extend their stay.

Other settlement requirements include:

  • The applicant has been a holder of an international sportsperson visa for no less than five years
  • The applicant has not been out of the UK for more than 180 days in 12 consecutive months
  • The applicant meets the English language test (if applicable) and they have passed the Life in the UK test.

Previously, a sportsperson entering the UK on a T2 visa could stay for up to six years, whereas T5 visas were only valid for a year.

The current reform alleviates those constraints, as well as the threat of being forced to leave the UK if you don’t settle within six years.

How do I get a UK Sportsperson Visa?

If you are an elite sportsperson or qualified coach and are recognized by your sport’s Governing Body as being at the highest level of your profession internationally, and your application is endorsed by them, then you are eligible to apply for an international sportsperson visa.


The UK Sportsperson Visa allows the best sports people and Coaches to come to Britain to make a difference in their sports in the UK. We hope this guide can assist you to go through your application process successfully.

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