Football visa

Football visa options: Travelling to the UK to play football

Pursuing a footballing career in the United Kingdom (UK) is a dream for many.  And a difficult one. After all, football requires commitment, dedication and ability. There is the competition from peers. And yet, harder still is securing a football visa to travel to the UK to pursue a football career.

Aspiring professional football players from within the Economic European Area (EEA), and , are free to  pursue their footballing career in the UK providing that they had exercised their rights in the UK before 31 December 2020.  See our blog post about the impact of the UK’s departure from the European Union for information about the restrictions to freedom of movement.

For those outside of the UK or who are from outside of the EEA without permission to be in the UK, it is imperative to find a football club willing to sponsor a Temporary Worker – Creative and sporting visa or International Sportsperson visa.

Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visas are issued for the length of the applicant’s contract or up to three years, whichever is the shorter period. There is the possibility of extending the visa up to a total of 5 years. Whereas the Tier 5 visa is issued for the length of the applicant’s contract or up to 12 months, whichever is the shorter.

The sponsoring club will be responsible for securing a Governing Body Endorsement and issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Determining the correct visa option will depend on the applicant’s skills, experience and nature of their sporting career, as the immigration rules dictate that, a person wishing to play football in the UK must be internationally established at the highest level, and their employment must make a significant contribution to the development of their sport at the highest level.

This strict requirement was introduced in response to the Football Association’s concerns about the high percentage of overseas nationals, participating in the Premier League at the expense of homegrown talent. See: Dyke: Work permit changes will benefit English football.

Some feel that the threshold is now too onerous. There have been a high number of Tier 2 (sportsperson) visa refusals, leading some overseas footballers and coaches to look to the Tier 1 (Investor) visa or Global Talent visa categories. And yet, the Tier 1 visas specifically prevent applicants from working as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. This also applies to the Youth Mobility Scheme visa.

Pursuing a footballing career

For those from outside of the UK, wishing to pursue their footballing career in the country, the first step is to go to the website of the football club that you wish to play for.

Most football clubs in the UK have a global football scouting system, where they attend matches overseas in order to identify top talent. If an individual is identified as a potential elite or first team player, the club will help the person to arrange a football visa. Therefore, playing for your local football club is a good place to hone in on your craft and be spotted.

A large number of football clubs do not accept football CV s and speculative emails, though a few do. Some clubs post dates of upcoming trials on their website and may expect interested individuals to already have status in the UK or an appropriate visa in place.

The Professional Football Scouts Association (PFSA) represent Football Scouts all over the world and provide details on their site about upcoming trials  as well as information about how to get scouted.

But be careful! The FA issued a warning about individuals, who may be falsely presenting themselves as licenced agents or football club employees, while claiming to be in a position to arrange all manner of football trials.

Please do not part with money, or arrange the transfer of funds to someone promising, by email or letter, that they can arrange a football trial. Please do your research and make background checks.

If you have any doubts about the promises made or doubts about the correspondence received, which claim to come from a club or agent/intermediary, the FA advise that you  should contact The FA Financial Regulation team directly for advice.

Good luck!


First published on 24 February 2017. Updated on 24 April 2020 with guidance relating to pursuing a career in football in the UK.

Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.

If you have questions or concerns or you would like straightforward immigration advice, or assistance with your application to enter or remain in the UK, feel free to contact us.

Contact us at info@thomaschaseimmigration.com, and visit  https://www.thomaschaseimmigration.com/contact-us to arrange a consultation.

Or learn more about from our blogs.

Comments

57 responses to “Football visa options: Travelling to the UK to play football”

  1. Isaac Onuoha avatar

    I want to be a professional footballer please help me am from Nigeria

  2. Ferekal avatar
    Ferekal

    Hello,

    Can I get a free trial visa to join a football club in the uk?

  3. Quyum Odejobi avatar

    Help me to get free visa and ticket to come to Uk to play football

  4. Al amin salisu kwaru avatar
    Al amin salisu kwaru

    Thank God

  5. FearGod wisdom ozombs avatar
    FearGod wisdom ozombs

    please am looking for a trail in uk Canada this wisdom

  6. Olaiya Mubarak Olamilekan avatar
    Olaiya Mubarak Olamilekan

    I want to become a footballer and it has been my dream for a very long time and am working towards it everyday of my life and I’ll continue working on it till I achieve my goals and objectives

    1. Adefulu Adedara avatar

      Please I want to play football.. it has been my dream 😩

  7. Joseph avatar
    Joseph

    I really went to become a footballer and I really went to play in England

    1. Lexicon avatar

      Pls I need a Visa to uk

  8. Kenaz Thomas avatar
    Kenaz Thomas

    This was helpful to me thanks alot

  9. Luiz Jaja avatar
    Luiz Jaja

    Thanks 😊
    This really helps I will keep on trying my best till I get what I want

  10. Emmanuel abba avatar
    Emmanuel abba

    To get in

  11. Rabo Victor avatar
    Rabo Victor

    Please any help on how I can become a professional footballer? Iam a Nigerian,17yrs of age.

    1. Richard Daniel avatar
      Richard Daniel

      Me too

  12. Malesh John Santos avatar
    Malesh John Santos

    Is it all about luck to be given a UK visa

  13. Malesh John Santos avatar
    Malesh John Santos

    So you mean I can be selected if they love the talent inside me

  14. Malesh John Santos avatar
    Malesh John Santos

    Hi football is my dream and am trying my level best to join and get a visa to UK so can I apply?

  15. Arshia avatar
    Arshia

    Hi Im Arshia,
    I used to play football professionally in my country. I came to the UK as a student last October and I search a lot to find a team but I haven’t. I will be so happy if you help me.

  16. Muobike Olunna Osmond avatar

    Am from Nigeria… I have a dream of becoming a Footballer in the future but I don’t have a sponsor….all I need is God’s grace

  17. Samad avatar
    Samad

    My name is samad,I dream of playing football in UK pls accept me,that is how ronaldo started,I think I could be like them,pls I’d be honour,and I don’t just love football am born to do it,it may seem unlikely to you,but the impossible is possible. pls consider me 😭😭😭😰

  18. Agu Victor avatar
    Agu Victor

    What if try out in England, and you get scouted… Will the English club pay ur football visa?

  19. Roy avatar
    Roy

    I am from Nigeria and plans to move to uk to stay with my friend there in uk for a long time and probably go for uk football trials and clubs trials and become a professional footballer there,what visa can I use to get there and what should I do when I get there?

    1. Thomas Chase avatar
      Thomas Chase

      Hello Roy,

      We have updated the blog post above. The visa type will depend on your personal circumstances, something that we cannot advise on in this forum.

      If you have any specific questions, you may wish to contact the football club, that is of interest to you, directly.

      All the best.

  20. ANYATSOR MICHAEL ADJATEI avatar
    ANYATSOR MICHAEL ADJATEI

    Am Anyatsor from Africa ghana am 18 years of age I play talented football and need a sponsorship

    1. Thomas Chase avatar
      Thomas Chase

      Hello Anyatsor,

      We have updated the blog post with tips on getting sponsorship.

      All the best!

  21. Wahid avatar
    Wahid

    Can I be a professional footballer in UK if I’m studying (holding a student visa) in a uni there? Or can I change my student visa to resident visa when I get there? What if a professional team really wants me, can they take me in even though I’ve got a non EU passport?

    1. Thomas Chase avatar
      Thomas Chase

      Hello Wahid,

      We cannot answer specific questions in this forum.

      We suggest that you seek immigration advice prior to making any changes to your visa status, or seek support via the football club that wishes to sponsor you.

      All the best and stay safe!

  22. Trevor Ssemakula avatar
    Trevor Ssemakula

    I have got a tier 5 youth mobility visa from Australia, will I be eligible to sign for a non league football team in England.

  23. Ahumibe ifeanyi avatar
    Ahumibe ifeanyi

    Good day, please is there a visa that can permit one to attend football trials in the UK if you’re coming to the UK for the first time?

  24. Lusanda avatar
    Lusanda

    Hi
    Can a tier 2 Visa (no sportsperson)dependent play soccer in the UK?

    1. Thomas Chase avatar
      Thomas Chase

      Hi Lusanda,

      A dependants of Tier 2 visa holder may not take up employment as a professional sportsperson, including a professional footballer or as a sports coach.

  25. Boss Vic avatar
    Boss Vic

    Hi Can I get a support to play in U.K my first two salary will be award to the supporting staff who will sponsor me. Because here in Nigeria I don’t get what I want and all I need is a sponsor and my first two salary will be there.

    1. Thomas Chase avatar
      Thomas Chase

      Hi there,

      One of the best ways to secure sponsorship for a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa is to contact the individual football club with your sporting CV and cover letter.

      You can find a list of professional football clubs that sponsor overseas at the following link: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/711117/2018-05-25_Tier_2_5_Register_of_Sponsors.pdf

      All the best!

      1. Kur Stephen avatar
        Kur Stephen

        Hey Thomas, sorry to disturb but can you help me contact a club desperate for players? I Am from South Sudan but I live in Uganda. My email is Kurstephen@gmail.com
        Please get back to me!!

        1. Thomas Chase avatar
          Thomas Chase

          Hi Kur,

          Many football clubs are always on the lookout for talent.

          One of the best ways to secure sponsorship is to contact the individual football club that you would like to play for, with your sporting CV and cover letter.

          All the best!

      2. Bekoe Prince Osei avatar

        If I am a soccer player, what do I need to do to get the EU visa

      3. Gabriel avatar
        Gabriel

        Hello Thomas,
        how can one write the sponsors? I tried going through the link but then I could not contact them, can you kindly please help me with a direct contact to Aberdeen Tier 2( Sports)
        Best Regards

  26. John M avatar
    John M

    Hi, I have a brother who is a British Citizen. I plan to travel to UK to play football professionally. What are my options as per visa type and eligibility to play in UK? Thanks

    1. C. Thomas avatar
      C. Thomas

      Hi John,

      Your options will depend on your individual circumstances.

      We cannot provide specific immigration advice here, but please feel free to contact us at info@thomaschaseimmigration.com to arrange a consultation.

    2. C. Thomas avatar
      C. Thomas

      Hi John,

      Your options will depend on your individual circumstances.

      We cannot provide specific immigration advice here, but please feel free to contact us at info@thomaschaseimmigration.com to arrange a consultation.

  27. Mack Silva Briggs avatar
    Mack Silva Briggs

    Hi Can I get a support to play in U.K my first salary will be award to the supporting staff who will sponsor me.

    1. C. Thomas avatar
      C. Thomas

      Hi there. It’s best to contact individual football clubs, that are of interest to you, and request sponsorship.

      All the best.

  28. ENOCH avatar
    ENOCH

    can i get free visa to play football for under 17 team in uk

    1. C. Thomas avatar
      C. Thomas

      Hi – Much will depend on if you are visiting the UK for trials or seeking to play professionally and if you are a visa national.

  29. Lok Lok avatar
    Lok Lok

    Can I play for a amateur sports club if I enter UK with a short term study visa coz I will be there to complete a short term course.

    1. C. Thomas avatar
      C. Thomas

      Hi – That’s correct.

      You can play for an amateur sports club while you study in the UK. You will need to seek an alternative visa if you are offered work as a sports person or professional player.

      Hope that helps!

      1. Jonelle avatar
        Jonelle

        Can you play professional football if your a tier 2 dependant???

        Thanks

        1. C. Thomas avatar
          C. Thomas

          Hi – Family members of a Tier 2 highly skilled worker are generally prevented from taking up employment as a professional sportsperson (including a sports coach).

  30. nzurumike emmanuel avatar
    nzurumike emmanuel

    Please, Can I sponsor myself so that I can start my football career in U.K?

    1. C. Thomas avatar
      C. Thomas

      Hello Nzurumike

      You must be sponsored by a football club in order to professionally play football in the UK.

      You may want to approach the football club of interest to find out about trials and their sponsorship process.

      Sponsoring football clubs can be manually found in the Sponsorship Register at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-of-licensed-sponsors-workers

      There is a lot of competition, so good luck!

  31. Abadi Alahdal avatar
    Abadi Alahdal

    Is there any chance of getting a contract with a visiting visa ? then change it to any visa the club wants ?

    1. C. Thomas avatar
      C. Thomas

      Hi Abadi,

      You may travel to the UK to meet with a football club and discuss and enter into a contract, as part of your visit. You cannot work in the UK under a visit visa or switch visa categories.
      Instead, you will need to return to your country of residence or origin and apply to return to the UK under a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa.

      Hope that helps.

  32. Andrew avatar
    Andrew

    Hi Carla,
    Does that mean a person with an ancestry visa is allowed to play professional football under the FA rules, or is that person just allowed to work in the UK but not under the FA regulations?

    Thank you,
    Andrew

    1. C. Thomas avatar
      C. Thomas

      Hi Andy,

      A person in possession of an ancestry visa may take up employment and play professional football under the FA regulations.

      As the Ancestry visa is effectively a work permit, there is no need for the individual to secure a Certificate of Sponsorship or meet additional footballing requirements seen with other visa types.

      Hope that helps,
      Carla

  33. Brendon avatar
    Brendon

    What about an ancestry visa which gives the holder the ability to work anywhere in the U.K.?

    1. C. Thomas avatar
      C. Thomas

      Hi Brendon,

      Yes – A person with ancestral links to the UK and in possession of an Ancestry visa may work in the UK.

      Carla

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