This week, it has been revealed that Brazilian football player Wellington Silva has been granted permission to enter the UK after obtaining a Spanish passport. Silva got signed to Arsenal in January 2011 but has never played for the football club after failing to be granted with a Tier 2 Sportsperson visa. In order for non-EU athletes to work in the UK they must have a Tier 2 Sportsperson to enable them to live and work in the UK.
Football Players with EU Nationality have Advantage Over Non EU Players
Wellington Silva was first spotted by Arsenal football club back in 2008 and was signed by them as they continued to watch the young football player grow and succeed in his career. However, after being signed, the Brazilian national was unable to come to the UK as he was deemed ineligible to apply for a Tier 2 Sportsperson visa to enable him to play football in the UK. It is unclear what immigration requirement Silva did not meet.
On 14 April 2015 Silva announced on twitter that he was granted Spanish nationality giving him an automatic right to come to the UK to live and work as a professional football player, as he is now an EU national. The free movement of EU nationals is a fundamental principle of the Treaty and pursuant to the Free Movements of Citizens Directive 2004/38/EC, EU nationals are free to live and work in the UK without a visa. Although this may please Arsenal supporters it is inevitable to upset others who are unable to come to the UK as a sportsperson or entertainer who are from outside the EU and deemed ineligible under the current UK Immigration Rules.
Last year, Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo made headlines when he was left in limbo as he awaited a decision for his Tier 2 visa to play for the football club in the UK. However, in connection to Rojo his national team mate Angel Di Maria who also plays for Manchester United was immediately allowed to enter and play football in the UK as he also holds an Italian passport. Once again showing that sportspersons who hold European nationality have a major advantage over non-EU football players.
Back in 2013 Football Association chairman Greg Dyke commented on the current UK Immigration rules regarding football players from outside the EU:
“We should also examine how the current work permit system operates — and it is worth pointing out that roughly 30 per cent [including Football League players] of the players who received work permits this summer did not meet the standard criteria — and we should review the loan system to see if it can be made more effective in terms of developing players,”
Are You Eligible for a Tier 2 Sportsperson
The Tier 2 Sportsperson visa route of the Points Based System is for elite sports people and coaches who are internationally established at the highest level. Applicants under this route would be expected to make a significant contribution to the development of their chosen sport in the UK. However, you will only be eligible for this visa if you:
- Have a certificate of sponsorship reference number from your sponsor
- Meet the English requirement
- Have £945 in savings. To prove that you can support yourself.
There are exemptions to the above which is something that can be explored with our expert Immigration Solicitors. If you wish to apply for a Tier 2 Sportsperson visa we can help you with your application and queries. Our expert team of lawyers can assess your matter in more detail to ensure that you are eligible for this UK visa route under the Immigration Rules and assist you in the preparation of the application. We will ensure that all key points are substantiated with documentary evidence thereby leading to a successful application and avoiding unnecessary expense of re submitting your application to the Home Office.
Legal Advice & Successful Tier 2 Sportsperson Applications
Our team of experienced and professionally qualified immigration solicitors and barristers will be able to guide you through the process of making a visa application to the UK step by step and limit the possibility of failure by complying with the strict letter of law.
Contact us so that we can review your case and provide you with an assessment.