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Transfer window news – obtaining a sportsperson visa

Requirements for EU Athletes and their dependants post Brexit and how this may affect transfers in football.

The January transfer window causes excitement amongst football fans up and down the country and none more so than for Newcastle United supporters this year. Following vast investment in the club by it’s new owners, supporters of Newcastle United have been expecting a flurry of new players to arrive at the club this month.

However, just how easy is it to complete the signing of potential players in such a short window of time? Clubs can only sign players within the month of January and this of course can be a potential stumbling block for both player and club when it comes to obtaining a visa. Gaining a visa can take longer than it may first appear and can take up to 3 weeks to receive a decision. In a window that is only 4 weeks long this could cause issues when trying to bring players to the Premier League.

International Sportsperson visa

Post Brexit, the International Sportsperson visa has replaced the Sportsperson (T2) visa and the sporting part of the Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting visa (T5). The new rules now apply to all non-British players. These new rules are in stark contrast to the previous ease of transfers for EU national players.

You can apply for an International Sportsperson visa if all of the following apply:

  • You’re an elite sportsperson or qualified coach, who’s recognised by your sports governing body as being at the highest level of your profession internationally
  • The governing body for your sport endorses your application
  • Your employment will develop your sport in the UK.

European athletes

Additionally, European players must now meet another set of rules if they wish to work in the UK. Athletes must be able to show that they have:

  • A valid certificate of Sponsorship
  • Prove that they can speak and understand English, if applying to stay for longer than 12 months
  • Show they can travel and show travel history over the last 5 years.

Family of sportsperson

The families of players moving to the UK can apply to join them in the UK as ‘dependants’ on the International Sportsperson visa if they are eligible. If their application is successful, their visa will end at the same time.

A dependant partner or child is any of the following:

  • Your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
  • Your child under 18 – including if they were born in the UK during your stay
  • Your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant.

You will be required to provide evidence of your relationship when you apply.

You must be able to prove that either:

  • You’re in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK
  • You’ve been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years when you apply.

If your child is 16 or over they must:

  • Live with you (unless they’re in full time education at boarding school, college or university)
  • Not be married, in a civil partnership or have any children
  • Be financially supported by you.

Dependant visa decision

You will normally receive a decision on your dependant visa within 3 weeks.

Over the last few days of the January window we may see a flurry of last minute transfers with potential visa applications to follow, as teams look to bolster their squads for the final stage of the season.


Our specialist immigration team have years of experience in this area and can help with all types of work visa applications including international sportsperson, skilled workers and other business immigration visas. Call Adam on 0191 232 9547 to make an appointment.

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