21 January 2013

UK visa rule change to scupper player transfers

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A recent change to UK visa rules looks set to get in the way of several transfers of foreign footballers during the January transfer window.

UK visa

Brazilian footballer Taison is thought to be the first player affected by the change to UK visa policy.

Current Football Association (FA) rules dictated that unless a player has played at least 75% of international matches for their country in the last two years they are ineligible for a UK visa. However, most transfers could avoid this requirement by subscribing to the investor category of UK visa.

The investor category allows anyone willing to invest £1 million or more in the British economy could obtain a UK visa.

Yet under a policy change to UK visa requirements introduced in December, 2012, this option has now been blocked, meaning many potential transfers that would have been made during the January transfer window have been cancelled.

The UK Border Agency (UKBA) changed the policy after complaints from the FA were made to the Sports & Recreation Alliance claiming that the rules were being used as a loophole by a variety of athletes.

While the Premier League and the Football League have both accepted the rule change, it is expected that the UKBA's change will prevent sportsmen and women as well as coaches and other sports professionals from moving to the UK.

Due to the secretive nature of many player transfers, it is not known how many transfers will be called off due to the rule change although it is thought that Brazilian footballer Taison was forced to sign for Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk instead of Chelsea despite having secured an investor visa before the rule change.

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.

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