UK Sports Visas

Individuals intending to travel to the UK for the purpose of participating in organised sport have two main visa options.

Amateurs will usually be able to rely on a Sports Visitor Visa, while those intending to enter the UK to play professional sport or participate in a domestic league will likely need to apply for an International Sportsperson Visa.

Sports Visitor Visa

Amateur sportspeople visiting the UK to practice, train or participate in a short amateur-level competition will usually find a Sports Visitor Visa to be the most suitable visa option. A Sports Visitor Visa is a subtype of the UK Standard Visitor Visa and is appropriate for unpaid sporting activity only.

Nationals of certain countries (such as Australia, the USA, Japan, and EU/EEA member states) may be eligible to enter the UK as a Sports Visitor without applying for a visa in advance.

Applications should be submitted no earlier than three months before the intended date of travel to the UK. To be eligible for a Standard Visitor Visa, applicants must prove that:

  • they have enough funds to support themselves for their whole stay
  • they intend to leave the UK when their visit ends
  • they are not planning to effectively live in the UK by mkaing successive or overly frequent visits

The Home Office fee for a Standard Visitor Visa is £115. If granted, the visa will be valid for six months.

Most applications for a Standard Visitor Visa receive a decision within three weeks.

International Sportsperson Visa

This visa permits individuals to travel to and work in the UK as a sportsperson, coach or sports broadcaster, providing that they have sponsorship from both an employer and their sport’s governing body in the UK. Applicants should expect to provide an endorsement which confirms that they are internationally established and intending to develop their sport in the UK at the highest level.

Most other UK work visas specifically prohibit working as a professional sportsperson.

In addition to proof of sponsorship, applicants should also expect to show:

  • they have enough money to support themselves when they arrive in the UK
  • if staying for more than 12 months, that they speak and understand English to at least A1 level on the CEFR scale
  • travel history for the last five years
  • tuberculosis test results (for applications from certain countries)
  • that they will be paid at least the UK minimum wage

Applications for this visa can be submitted no earlier than three months before the intended first day of work in the UK. Once an application has been received, it can take up to three weeks to receive a decision when applying from within the UK and up to eight weeks when applying from outside the UK.

International Sportsperson Visas can be issued for up to three years, and extended as long as the holder remains eligible.

Applications for visas of under 12 months cost £298 per person. For longer visa applications, the fee is £719 when applying from outside the UK and £827 when applying from within the UK. Applicants will also need to pay a healthcare surcharge for each year that their visa will be valid.

Amateur Visits and Sports Tours

If you are intending to travel to the UK to play sport on a strictly amateur basis, it is most likely that you will be able to do so on either a visa-free basis or by applying for a Standard Visitor Visa.

Demetris Demetriou

Demetris is a dual-qualified lawyer in the UK (Solicitor) and Cyprus (Advocate) with 10+ years of experience in UK immigration. He completed his legal studies at University College London and City University London. Over the course of his career, he held key roles as Head of Immigration at Legal 500 firms and within the Big4, overseeing teams of 15+ fee earners handling 2000+ applications annually.

Demetris went on to co-establish his firm in London and continues to offer innovative solutions and strategic immigration planning to multinationals, SMEs, and private clients.

He personally represented 1500+ clients in 30+ visa routes including investors, entrepreneurs, innovators, sole representatives, students, family visas, global talent, UK ancestry, administrative reviews and appeals. Demetris has managed corporate relocations, conducted immigration law training and implemented post-Brexit immigration policies for corporate clients.

Demetris has been featured in various events and publications focusing on UK immigration, notably at the Cambridge Network, the Westminster Policy Forum and most recently at DGEMS, a global mobility summit hosted by Forbes India.

If you would like to discuss your UK immigration matter or have any questions about your options for immigrating to the UK, you can book a consultation here.

Tatiani Preifelt

Tatiani has a wealth of expertise in global mobility and corporate immigration. Her ample skills were acquired within leading immigration practices including three out of the Big4 firms in both the UK and Sweden. Tatiani went on to co-establish her firm in London where she continues to advise clients predominantly in corporate, business and skilled work migration.

Having personally relocated to 10 different countries, Tatiani understands the importance of an expedient and successful immigration process and takes pride in delivering a seamless experience to her clients as well.

Over the course of her career, she has assisted over 500 individuals and businesses to obtain the appropriate visa permits in the UK.

Her awarded academic work at The University of Oxford, The London School of Economics, and at The Geneva University is in the fields of Political Science, International Human Rights Law, and Global Migration Governance.

She regularly provides immigration training and has recently participated as a speaker and panellist at DGEMS 2023, a global mobility summit hosted by Forbes India.

If you would like to discuss your UK immigration matter or have any questions about your options for immigrating to the UK, you can book a consultation here.