18 December 2008

UK visa issues force Australian star home

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Rugby League star Danny Russell is having to head home to Australia after being told he cannot play for Whitehaven under the new system for immigration, reports North West Evening Mail.

The amateur number 7 was to play for Whitehaven on a UK Working Holiday visa, which under the old system for immigration would have allowed him to play professionally, provided they had living expenses covered and no pay.

However, the Home Office introduced a new system for immigration this year, which involved replacing the UK Working Holiday visa with a Youth Mobility scheme.  The new system rules that no amateur players can play for professional teams without being sponsored by a licensed club. 

Russell said he would be returning to Australia soon to consider his options, but says he would not be the only one in the same situation.

"It’s going to affect a lot of people.  I’ll be interested to see how many," Russell told the newspaper.  "A couple of mates from Gateshead are struggling, and trying to sort things out."

Whitehaven coach Ged Stokes said although the situation is frustrating for all concerned, they have to respect the new conditions of the UK immigration system and find the best possible solution.

"This is an extremely disappointing ruling and I feel sorry for Danny on a personal level.  The lad was looking forward to putting his talent on show and now he will be denied that opportunity," he said.

"However, if this ruling is the same for all clubs at all levels then I cannot complain."

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

Article by Jessica Bird, UK Visa Bureau.

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