International students advised to seek visa guidance

5th March 2019

International students advised to seek visa guidance

Volleyball England is directing players, clubs and universities towards seeking expert advice about the eligibility of international students at British universities to play sport outside of university competition.

Recent announcements have caused concern that students playing for and/or coaching sports clubs in local, regional and national level competition could be a violation of the terms of the Tier 4 student visa, which permits international students to come to the UK to study.

Volleyball England is working with the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the organisation which represents the voice of the sports sector with the Government, as well as with fellow National Governing Bodies, to gain clarity from the Home Office about the visa policy could potential impact sports.

Volleyball prides itself as one of the most diverse sports in the country and an update will be provided in due course but as it is the responsibility of international students to ensure they comply with the terms of their visa, it is advised they check the terms of their visa and seek expert guidance about their own situation.

The Tier 4 student visa Policy Guide, which is available on the Government website section about general student visas, highlights what students are not permitted to do. Part of the conditions are that students ‘cannot be employed as a professional sportsperson (including a sports coach) under Tier 4’.

For the full list and definition of the seven policy criteria, which is not restricted to just those who get paid, to be considered a professional sportsperson, please read paragraph 320 on page 69 and 70 of the ‘Tier 4 of the points based system: policy guidance’ in the full guidance to general student visas.

Guidance for students and clubs

It is the responsibility of international students to ensure they comply with the terms of their visa. Any clubs, teams or international students seeking clarity on the policy are advised to seek expert advice:

  • The Home Office. You can phone the Home Office on 020 7035 4848, Monday to Friday between 9am – 5pm and speak to the UK Visas and Immigration, which is part of the Home Office. 
  • The International students’ department at your university. 

If National Volleyball League clubs have concerns about fulfilling their fixtures due to concerns about player eligibility, they are first encouraged to ask their international students to gain expert advice on their status to play.

If the impact on player eligibility could render your team unable to fulfil forthcoming fixtures, please contact the Competitions Working Group as soon as possible. In order to help, registration of new players will be re-opened for clubs which are affected. To contact the Competitions Working Group, please email

The wellbeing of the volleyball community is a top priority for Volleyball England, so international students are reminded to seek expert advice from the Home Office and their university’s international students’ department about the terms of their visa.

International students advised to seek visa guidance