Changes to the UK Immigration Rules
On 1 January 2021, the existing working rights of EU citizens entering the UK will end. A modified version of the current ‘Points Based System’ that is now in place exclusively for non-EU workers will extend next year to anyone who is not British and Irish. Certain EU and non-EU nationals covered under the existing provisions will also be exempt. This article explains the proposed changes and what steps clubs should take to minimise disruption.
The existing Points-based system
The Rules provide several routes that enable non-EU athletes and coaches to work in the country. Most fall within the Tier 2 (Sportsperson) and Tier 5 (Creative and Sporting) visa categories, each of which requires the club to have a Sponsor Licence in place. A single licence, which can be renewed every four years, can be used to sponsor any number of sportspeople and at any UK site.
The individual sportsperson must have an endorsement from the relevant governing sports body to support his or her visa application. Tier 2 applicants must also meet an English language requirement.
The ‘new’ Points-based system
Clubs will breathe a sigh of relief to know that the existing system will largely remain intact except, crucially, that EU citizens entering the country after 1 January 2021 will require permission to work under the new PBS. The current governing body endorsement regime will continue and there will be no cap on the number of sportspeople a club can sponsor at any one time.
What will change?
What happens to existing sportspeople now in the UK?
Can you employ a sportsperson who is in the UK on another type of visa that is issued after 2021?
The answer very much depends on the type of non-sportsperson visa held by the individual. Many work and study visas explicitly restrict an individual from engaging in professional sports (which includes semi-professional sport that is both paid and unpaid). This is the same as the position now. You can contact us to verify a person’s entitlement to be employed as a sportsperson.
Can a sportsperson work elsewhere in the UK?
An individual with a sportsperson visa is restricted in their entitlement to take up additional work for another employer. Supplementary employment is restricted to 20 hours and should generally be confined to work as a sportsperson. A sportsperson in the UK on a different type of visa (such as the family or ancestry route) will not be restricted.
What steps should I take to prepare?
We recommend clubs take the following steps:
Newfields is a niche firm that specialises in sport immigration. We can support you in your preparations for the changes due in 2021. Please contact us and a member of the team will be happy to advise you.
Let us know what you need, and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.