Update: new Tier 4 visa guidance

22nd March 2019

Update: new Tier 4 visa guidance

A statement has been issued to give further guidance to International Students who play sport under the terms of the Tier 4 visa. The update comes after there had been concerns about the status of international students on Tier 4 visas to be eligible to play any sport outside of university competition. 

Following their discussions with the Home Office, a joint statement has been released by British University and Colleges Sport and the Sport and Recreation Alliance - the organisation that represents the views of the sports sector to the Government and Volleyball England is a member of. 

As volleyball is an amateur sport in this country, the statement is positive news for international students with Tier 4 visas as it should provide reassurance about their eligibility to play competitive volleyball as it states: 'Relevant visa holders (including students) who are not providing services as a professional sportsperson – for example where they are participating in amateur/grassroots sport – should remain unaffected.' 

Here is the full statement released by the Sport and Recreation Alliance: 

The Sport and Recreation Alliance and British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) are aware of recent changes made by the Home Office to the definition of ‘professional sportsperson’ set out in the immigration rules.

This definition is important as it is typically a condition of certain visas – notably Tier 4 student visas – that the visa holder is prohibited from engaging as a professional sportsperson. 

Both the Alliance and BUCS have held constructive discussions with the Home Office on the changes and are seeking further clarity on specific points where we can, although this may take some additional time. 

Based on these conversations, and to provide some reassurance to our members in the interim, our understanding is that the new definition does not mark a substantive policy shift. Relevant visa holders (including students) who are not providing services as a professional sportsperson – for example where they are participating in amateur/grassroots sport – should remain unaffected. 

The Home Office has more recently updated the definition of ‘professional sportsperson’ to clarify its application in certain circumstances. The most up-to-date definition can be found here (pages 5-6) along with an accompanying explanatory memorandum (see para 7.54). 

For the avoidance of doubt, this statement is intended to provide initial guidance based on conversations held to date. It does not constitute formal Home Office policy and it is not the role of the Alliance or BUCS to advise on individual visa issues.

Any decision on whether an individual is compliant with their visa conditions and related enforcement is for the Home Office and relevant agencies and will be dependent upon the individual circumstances of each case. Where visa holders have specific queries, they should take appropriate advice. 

(End of statement) 

International students can find out more about the terms of Tier 4 visas, including Government policy documents and guidance, in the useful links in the information released on the Tier 4 visa by Volleyball England earlier in March . 

Update: new Tier 4 visa guidance