The government has announced that international sports stars will be eligible to apply for the UK Global Talent Visa. Winners of prestigious awards in the areas of art, music, film, science, medicine, engineering and humanities were already able to qualify for the fast-track visa, but sports stars had been excluded.
However, from October 2021, sports stars at the ‘top of their game’ will be eligible to apply for the Global Talent Visa. This means that they will only have to make a single UK visa application instead of having to endure a lengthy endorsement route.
Prior to being given permission to apply for a Global Talent Visa, international sports stars would have to apply for a UK skilled worker visa or Tier 5 temporary worker visa, which are far more bureaucratic and require attendance at a UK immigration appointment.
Future of European footballers in doubt
Following Brexit, doubt was cast over the futures of many international footballers playing for British clubs, given that Europeans would now require a UK visa to work in Britain.
The government announcement has been welcomed by the Football Association (FA), with a spokesperson saying: “Ensuring a faster system after obtaining a Governing Body Endorsement from The FA will allow for the world’s best footballers to enter the country more easily.”
By adding international footballers to the Global Talent Visa eligibility list, the UK government is hoping to boost its mission of continuing to attract the ‘brightest and best’ to Britain, including all sportspeople – not only footballers.
Crowning point of careers
UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, who is currently coming under heavy fire for the ongoing Channel migrant crisis, said: “We want to attract the world’s greatest minds at the crowning point of their careers, so the UK remains number one on the global leader board in sports, the arts, science, film and technology sectors.”
“Through our points-based system we focus on talent and skills, not where someone comes from, and the immigration changes will make it much easier for the brightest and best to live and work in the UK,” she added.
To be eligible for a Global Talent Visa, international sports stars will still require an endorsement from a sports governing body and a Certificate of Sponsorship from a recognised club. However, the process is much quicker and easier via this route, the government claims.
Actors, actresses and musicians
Back in May, actors, actresses and musicians who have won top industry awards were added to the list of international stars who could apply for a Global Talent Visa. This included Brit award winners, Mobo award winners for best international act, and lifetime achievement award winners at the Grammys.
Winners of an Oscar, Bafta, Tony and Oliver Award were also added to the eligibility list. Meanwhile, Nobel Prize winners, Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering winners as well as Fields Medal and Turing Award winners are included in the Global Talent visa list for science, technology, engineering and maths.
As part of the arts and culture list, Booker Prize and International Chopin Piano Competition winners were also included.
Global Talent Visa applications rise
Workpermit.com recently reported that UK Global Talent Visa applications had hit 4,000 since the scheme was launched in 2014.
The past year in particular has seen a surge in applications with 35% of the total made in 2021. The founding CEO of Tech Nation, Gerard Grech, said: “The UK is a global powerhouse for tech, not only due to our world-class ideas and innovation, but our world-class talent too.”
“Tech Nation’s Global Talent Visa is just one of the many reasons the UK is such an attractive hub for ambitious and inspiring tech entrepreneurs, and will help ensure the UK remains one of the best destinations to start and scale a tech business in the months and years to come,” he added.
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