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The Queen’s polo hot water

The Queen has recently faced criticism for allegedly interfering with a 2016 decision when the Home Office stated they would be getting rid of the concession which allowed polo players and grooms people to come into the UK. In 2015 the Home Office approached Hurlingham Polo Association, the recognised endorsing body for Polo and requested that they consider tightening their criteria so that only those players playing at the highest level were able to obtain entry. After initially stating the concession would be revisited, a meeting between the Queen and Amber Rudd reportedly led the Home Office to change their mind about the immediate tightening of the restrictions, and there were transitional arrangements put in place for the 2017 season. The palace stated the Queen would never interfere with policy decisions.

What are Tier 2 and Tier 5 visas?

Tier 2 and Tier 5 are both routes that allow Sponsor’s in the UK or employers to apply for a licence which allows them to Sponsor workers from outside the EU. 

It is important firstly to lay out the general rules relating to Tier 2 and Tier 5 Creative and Sporting categories. Tier 2 and Tier 5 routes are used to employ non-EEA nationals who are specialists as, you guessed it, creative or sporting people. Tier 2 is a longer-term route and can lead to settlement in the UK. Tier 5 is the route for temporary migrants who are coming to the UK for shorter periods of time. 

Sporting Sponsorships

Under both routes, the applicant is required to have a Sponsor, the Sponsor must be a licence holder and will have ‘Certificates of Sponsorships’ from the Home Office to issue. In the Sporting categories, endorsing bodies have been certified by the Home Office to provide an endorsement to the those that will become Sponsor licence holders. This allows people, specialised in the field, to confirm that the body applying for licence genuinely needs workers and is a genuine club or body in the field. A full list of all endorsing bodies is available at Appendix M of the Immigration Rules. It is not possible for agents to obtain a Sponsorship Licence, a body applies for an endorsement from Hurlingham Polo Association, followed by a licence from the Home Office. It is possible for a body to obtain a licence for more than one sport if necessary; however, if this is required, the applicant will have to apply for an endorsement from each body.

The Certificates of Sponsorship are issued to persons wishing to apply for leave to enter or remain in the UK. It is mandatory to have these as part of an entry clearance application in these categories.

Applying without advance for Entry Clearance

It is also possible for persons to come on the Tier 5 route without applying in advance for Entry Clearance. Where a person wishes to come to the UK for three months or less, they can be issued a Certificate of Sponsorship and simply fly to the UK for processing at the border. This allows persons to come at short notice for sporting engagements. In order to use this concession for Creative and Sporting workers, you must be a non-visa national as per the list contained in the Immigration Rules in Appendix 2 of Appendix V.

For those that are Sporting workers who wish to stay in the UK more than three months but less than 12 months, they will need to apply for formal leave to enter and will not be able to rely on the concession. Under Tier 5, an applicant can stay up to twelve months in the UK. For a longer period of stays, it will be necessary to apply under Tier 2. 

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