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Home Office Relaxes Requirements for International Footballer Recruitment

Changes to the International Sportsperson visa have been announced by the Football Association (FA), making it easier for English clubs to recruit new players from overseas.

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Changes to Visa Requirements 

The main changes to be brought to the visa involve recruitment for clubs in the Premier League and English Football League (EFL), who previously had to adhere to strict guidelines when recruiting new players from overseas.

The changes will make it easier for new players of exceptional promise to be brought to the UK, even if they do not fulfil the points requirement for the visa.

Because of these changes, Premier League and Championship teams will now be able to bring in four additional international players, and League One and League Two teams will be able to bring in two players.

Widening Opportunities for Young Players

Previously, the restrictions of the International Sportsperson visa largely meant that only those who were already elite, highly established players could immigrate to the UK.

This meant that clubs were unable to recruit potentially exceptional up-and-coming players who were not yet firmly established in the sport.

However, these changes may help to widen opportunities for younger, promising players who wish to develop their skills in the UK with English clubs.

Players will be able to come to the UK if they have an endorsement under the newly-created Governing Body Endorsement (GBE) criteria. Under this new exception, the FA will be able to endorse new players if the club can evidence that they show significant potential and is of sufficient quality to enhance the development of football in England.

Statement from the FA

Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the FA, has stated the following:

“As English football’s governing body, we oversee the whole football ecosystem, and we wanted to create a new model which would meet the different objectives of our football stakeholders. We worked closely with the clubs and the leagues, and have designed a progressive solution which will give clubs additional access to international talent and incentivise playing opportunities for English talent.”

Changes to the International Sportsperson visa and English clubs’ recruitment of new players came into effect from the most recent opening of the transfer window on 14 June 2023.

Do you need help with an immigration issue? Our lawyers can assist you.

We can help you if you need help with your visa application or immigration case.

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