17 February 2009

RFL seeking clarity of UK visa rules

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The Rugby Football League (RFL) is seeking clarification regarding the new rules for UK visas that were introduced by the Home Office November last year.

Over the past few months, British league clubs have run into trouble trying to get their contracted players a UK work permit to play in the UK's Super League.  Todd Carney, Greg Bird, Michael Crocker, Greg Eastwood and Trevor Exton were all denied approval of their UK visa application, because of criminal convictions.

The UK immigration system has gone through a massive overhaul over the past year, and many people are finding it much tougher to get a UK visa approval, particularly Australian league players.

The executive chairman of the RFL, Richard Lewis, is requesting a clarification of the new system so that he can better manage the visa applications of his players in the future. 

"There has obviously been a change in policy and I think it is important we get it clarified," Lewis said.  "We need to know exactly what history is relevant and what is not relevant when a player submits a visa application."

"I'm sure we will get clarity in time for next season so that the clubs know what's okay and what's not."

Meanwhile, the National Rugby League (NRL) bosses in Australia are welcoming the tighter immigration system, as it will work in two ways to benefit the Australian league; players will hopefully stop offending and scoring criminal charges against their name and will also deter players from looking to the UK as an easy back-up option to play professionally.

"It's a definite reminder of what the consequences are for not keeping your nose clean or stepping out of line," said David Gallup, the NRL's chief executive.

Eastwood, Crocker, Bird and Exton have each resubmitted or appealed their UK work permit applications. 

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa and immigration services.

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