Visa Requirements for English Football

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This information below outlines the criteria for football clubs to become sponsors and obtain Governing Body Endorsements for individual players under Tiers 2 and 5 of the UKBA's points based system for the 2010/11 season.

The criteria below have been agreed by the UKBA following consultation between the FA, the Premier League, the Football League, the Professional Footballers’ Association, the League Managers’ Association and the other Home Associations of the Scottish FA, the FA of Wales and the Irish FA.


The criteria will apply for season 2010/11 and will be effective from 1st May 2010 through to 30th April 2011. The criteria will be reviewed in early 2011 in order that revised criteria may be issued by the 1st May 2011 to operate for season 2011/12.


To be eligible to become a Sponsor and issue Certificates of Sponsorship a club must be in membership of the Premier League or the Football League. A Sponsor’s licence issued under Tier 2 or Tier 5 is valid for a period of 4 years, after which time it may be renewed. Clubs should note that a Sponsor’s licence may be revoked at any time if the Sponsor is seen to be failing in its compliance with its duties.

Length of Season

For the purposes of PBS, the playing season for this sport is from August to May. This may vary slightly from season to season depending on the arrangement of the first and last matches.

Criteria for Players

To be eligible for a Governing Body Endorsement under PBS:

  • The applicant club must be in membership of the Premier League or Football League. During the period of endorsement, the player may only play for clubs in membership of those leagues (i.e. the player may not be loaned to a club below the Football League);
  • The player must have participated in at least 75% of his home country’s senior competitive international matches where he was available for selection during the two years preceding the date of the application; and
  • The player’s National Association must be at or above 70th place in the official FIFA World Rankings when averaged over the two years preceding the date of the application.

Competitive matches

The definition of a senior competitive international match is a:
FIFA World Cup Finals match, FIFA World Cup Qualifying group match, FIFA Confederations Cup matches, Continental Cup Qualifiers and Finals matches such as UEFA European Championships and Qualifiers, CAF African Cup of Nations and Qualifiers, AFC Asia Nations Cup and Qualifiers, CONCACAF Gold Cup, CONCACAF Copa Caribe, UNCAF Nations Cup, CONMEBOL Copa America, OFC Nations Cup

International Appearances

When submitting an application, clubs should provide written confirmation of the player's international appearance record over the preceding two years, highlighting those matches where the player took part, as well as those for which he was unavailable for selection due to injury or suspension. Confirmation of the player’s appearances should be obtained from his National Association. If this is not possible, the information will be independently verified by the FA through all available sources. A decision cannot be made until this process has been completed and any relevant supporting evidence is submitted.

Length of Issue

Governing Body Endorsements should be issued for a period appropriate to the tier under which the application is being made, that is:

Tier 2 (Sport)

  • Initial application – for the length of the player’s contract or up to three years, whichever is the shorter period.
  • Extension application – for the length of the player’s contract or up to two years, whichever is the shorter period. A subsequent extension of a further two years is possible when the first extension is about to expire. Where a player is currently registered under a work permit and an extension will transfer him into the Points Based System, his initial period of leave under Tier 2 may be for a maximum of three years; thereafter, any extensions will be for a maximum of two years.

Please note that applications made under Tier 2 will be subject to any player who is not from a majority English-speaking country passing an accredited English Language Test.

Tier 5 (Sporting)

Length of the player’s contract or up to 12 months, whichever is the shorter period. No in-country extensions are possible of more than a total period of 12 months.

For example if a player initially had six months approval he would be allowed to apply for an extension in-country up to another six months. If a club wishes to continue to employ a player beyond 12 months, the individual will have to return overseas to make a new application.

Tier 5 to Tier 2 Switching

Players may enter under Tier 5 without the need to demonstrate the competency in English required under Tier 2. Players may then apply to switch to Tier 2 once they have passed the English Language Test. For this, the club will need to submit a new application so that they may be issued with a new endorsement and subsequently produce a new Certificate of Sponsorship under Tier 2. The application to switch into Tier 2 may be made in-country.

If, at the end of the 12 month period, the player has been unable to meet the English language requirement, he will need to return home and obtain entry clearance for a further 12 month period under Tier 5.

Where a player wishes to switch into Tier 2 for the remainder of his employment and he does not meet the criteria for initial applications, the application will be dealt with by consultation with the relevant football governing bodies in a similar way to extension applications. If approval is not given for the application to be progressed automatically, however, an appeal panel will be required.

Extension Applications

Where the player is extending his employment with the same club
If a club wishes to retain the services of a player, they should submit a new application before the work permit or Certificate of Sponsorship expires. If the criteria are satisfied, an endorsement will be issued for the period of their contract, up to a maximum of two years.

Changes During the Period of Approval

Change of Employment

A club wishing to sign a player from another United Kingdom club must submit an application to the FA. If the criteria are satisfied, a Governing Body Endorsement will be issued for a maximum of three years in respect of his employment with the new club.

Temporary Transfer of Registration (Loans)

For the purpose of these requirements, loans are defined as temporary transfers which do not extend beyond the end of the season in which the registration is temporarily transferred. Loans are only permissible within the player’s current period of approval and should not be used to avoid making extension or change of employment applications.

To another club in the UK
If a player on a work permit or Certificate of Sponsorship is moving to another club in the UK on a loan basis, his parent club must notify UKBA of the fact that he has temporarily moved location.

The loaning club retains overall responsibility for the player as his employer and Sponsor and he is granted permission to move temporarily under the provisions of his current leave, provided that the Certificate of Sponsorship issued by the loaning club is valid for the duration of the loan period.

If the loan is later made permanent, the new club will, at this time, have to make a fresh application on behalf of the player. Clubs should note that the change of employment process must be fully completed before the player can play as a permanent employee of the new club.

To a club outside the UK
Where a player is moving to a club outside the UK on a temporary transfer basis, his parent club must again inform UKBA of the player’s technical change of employment.

From a club outside the UK
Any player joining an English club on loan from an overseas club (outside the UK) must meet all the requirements of Tier 2 or Tier 5 and therefore an application must be submitted to the FA.

Contract Changes or Re-negotiation During the Period of Approval

Where a club wishes make significant changes to the terms and conditions of the player’s contract, for instance to improve his salary or length of contract part-way through the approved period, the club should notify UKBA of this.

International Transfer Windows

Governing Body Endorsements may be applied for by clubs at any time and will be considered against the criteria as above. Clubs should take into consideration the fact that a Governing Body Endorsement for a player, once issued, must be used within two months, unless that club has the express approval of the FA.


Where an application does not meet the published criteria, a club may request an appeal panel to consider the player's skills and experience. In these cases the FA will refer the club's evidence to an independent panel (please see Panel Terms of Reference and Operating Procedures).

The remit of the panel is:

  • To consider whether the player is of the highest calibre.
  • To consider whether the player is able to contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in England.

Ceasing the Employment of Players

If a club ceases to employ a player prematurely, they must inform the UK Border Agency.