The UK is known for the support and development of talented athletes, including those from overseas. Cricket is an excellent example of featuring overseas elite sportsmen on the domestic scene across England and Wales. We recently represented a young, talented cricketer with offers to join local cricket clubs, but he was not able to apply for a long-term visa to remain or enter the UK as a cricketer as he did not meet the high threshold imposed by the current rules.
The current immigration rules for sportspeople are for those who are already established and known worldwide. These sportspeople travel to the UK under the International Sportsperson route, which is for an elite sportsperson or qualified sports coach who is internationally established and can make a significant contribution to the development of their sport at its highest level in the UK. This is a substantially high threshold to meet; so, what about those who are at the beginning of their career? How can they rise to the top level without having an opportunity to play outside their own country? At present, they are not able to meet this high threshold of the rules governing international sportsperson immigration.
Currently, there is no visa available which would enable our client, who is trying to progress playing at an international level, to remain in the UK and play professionally. The requirement is to be internationally established which may not be always possible in some countries, thus putting many young talented sportspeople at an unfair disadvantage.
Following the move to the UK to complete his education and during his considerably short period of residing in the UK as a student our client has established himself within a Premier League representing a local Cricket Club.
This offer to play for a cricket club in the UK, however, was conditional and dependent on his immigration status, so we assisted him by preparing a Sport Visit Visa, a sub-category of the Standard Visitor route, which allows amateur sportspeople, like our client, to undertake permitted unpaid sporting activities in the UK for a period of up to 6 months. This secured our client a position in a cricket club during the 2023 season. Although the Sport Visit Visa does not lead to settlement in the UK, it allows young, talented sportspeople, just like our client, to be introduced to the professional sporting world which the UK has to offer.
It is great to see our client is the top of York Cricket club leader board; we are extremely happy and proud.