International Sportsperson Visa UK

The UK International Sportsperson Visa has replaced the Tier 2 Sportsperson Visa as the UK Sports Visa and offers elite sportspeople long term stay in the UK. This is for athletes and coaches who will be representing and training with UK-based teams.

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About The International Sportsperson Visa application

The International Sportsperson Visa offers a long-term option for those who may be a part of UK-based sports teams.

The International Sportsperson Visa can last for up to 3 years, with the potential to extend if you continue to meet the sporting and eligibility requirements. Depending on your circumstances, sportspeople who spend a limited amount of time in the UK may prefer to apply for shorter-term visas, for example, a Permitted Paid Engagement Visa.

If an elite sportsperson or qualified coach* is due to move to the UK to reside here while training, coaching, or officiating, it is highly advisable to ensure that your application for the Sportsperson Visa has a good chance of acceptance on the first attempt. This will avoid the drawn-out and costly Administrative Review process.

*You are considered qualified or elite at your relevant sport if you are internationally established at a high level. The player or coach will need to demonstrate they will make a significant contribution to the team or to the UK based sporting body.

That is where we can help. At QC Immigration, we have an experienced team that will be able to assist an elite sportsperson with your visa application. We will offer helpful guidance and will assist you in putting together a strong and convincing application that clearly highlights your eligibility and contributions. This will give you the best chance of acceptance on your first attempt, which will allow you to compete or train in the UK with no disruption to your schedule.

International Sportsperson Visa requirements

Sportspeople seeking long-term stay in the UK via the International Sportsperson Visa route must meet a number of requirements for a successful application. It is important to ensure that you do so before applying in order to make the application process as clear and easy as possible.

This visa will require an endorsement from your sport’s governing body. You must contribute towards your sport’s development at the highest level and you must also meet general eligibility requirements for a visa with a longer stay. Requirements include:

  • Proof of your knowledge of English and English language skills (for stays over 12 months) - this can be proved through either an approved English language test, being a national of a majority English speaking country, or a relevant qualification taught in English that is equivalent to a degree. For example, having a UK Bachelor's degree would count as evidence.
  • Evidence that you can financially support yourself.
  • A valid Certificate of Sponsorship.
  • A valid passport.
  • History of your travels over the last 5 years.
  • A tuberculosis test results if you’re from a listed country
  • An eligible qualification if you’re switching from a Student Visa.

Note that there may be additional requirements depending on your circumstances and which country you are applying from, such as certified translations of your documents.

This visa offers up to 3 years of stay with an option to extend for up to another 3 years should you continue to meet the eligibility criteria. This offers the elite sportsperson a route towards a 5-year Indefinite Leave to Remain.


Teams or organisations looking to bring over sportspeople as employees must obtain a Sponsor Licence; this will also require you to obtain an endorsement from your sports club or sport’s governing body. Your sport’s governing body must be recognised and approved by the Home Office.

Meeting requirements for the Sportsperson Visa

It is important to make sure that you are eligible and are able to highlight this to the Home Office when applying for the International Sportsperson Visa. Book a consultation with us and we will help you put together a comprehensive and convincing application.

Our team and immigration lawyers with decades of combined experience will be able to put you on the path that gives you the highest likelihood of success with your first visa application.

Can you get indefinite leave to remain through the International Sportsperson Visa

You can use the International Sportsperson Visa to gain indefinite leave to remain (ILR) under the 5 years’ route. You should extend the International Sportsperson Visa prior to its expiry.

There are certain criteria if you wish to apply for ILR under the International Sportsperson, one of which being that you must be getting paid a yearly minimum of £35,800. You will also have to fulfil the typical residence and other requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain, check out our page on this to learn more.

Other Routes

For sportspeople seeking shorter access to the UK for a single competition or event, there are alternative visa routes and Visit visas that offer shorter periods of stay.

Sports Visitor or (Standard) Visa

If you are coming to join a national team, or association, typically you will need to be sponsored by an employer. If you are going to be in the UK only for a single event then a Visitor Visa might be appropriate. This visa will allow you to visit the UK for up to 6 months where you will be able to take part in specific sporting activities or training.

This route is also available for sporting officials, such as referees who may be seeking to access the UK in order to officiate sporting events.

Permitted Paid Engagement Visa

If you only seek temporary access to the UK for a single event, the most applicable visa option would be the Permitted Paid Engagement Visa.

It is similar to the Sports Visitor (Standard) Visa although you will only have a single month of stay. Athletes, coaches, and officials of sports governing body can apply for this visa if they only intend on spending a short period in the UK for qualifying sporting activities or competitions.

Temporary Work – Creative Worker Visa

For Dancers who require a period of stay between a year and two years but do not intend on staying longer than this or pursuing Indefinite Leave to Remain, you may benefit from the Temporary Worker – Creative Visa.

You may apply for up to 12 months’ stay which may be extended for another maximum of 12 months. The duration may differ if you change sponsors. You will need a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a licensed Sponsor, make a unique contribution to the UK labour market, be paid a minimum salary, as well as having the finances to support yourself in order to successfully apply for this visa.

How QC Immigration lawyers can help

As the requirements are high and specific, QC Immigration is here to help you by providing expert advice, solutions and representation for the International Sportsperson Visa.


How do I apply for the Sportsperson Visa?

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Can I bring my family to the UK on a Sportsperson Visa?

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Can I extend a Sportsperson Visa?

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