Tiran Gunawardena

immigration issues for footballers and their families: part 2

Tiran Gunawardena
immigration issues for footballers and their families: part 2

Immigration issues for footballers and their families: Part 2

In Part 1 of our two-part series on immigration, we outlined the new immigration-related Brexit developments as they apply to footballers.

In Part 2, we will share a case study to show the practical impact of these developments. Here, we focus on Reevaldo’s long term girlfriend, Carolina, and discuss how she can obtain a right to remain in the UK.

Carolina, also a Brazilian national, has been Reevaldo’s girlfriend for over 3 years and wants to move from Brazil to the UK to live with him. At the moment, they are not engaged to be married.

As always, don't miss the footnotes --> 1 <-- which contain links to useful documents as well as additional insights on industry practice.

How can Carolina move to the UK?

If she and Reevaldo have been in a relationship akin to marriage for at least 2 years (i.e. living together), she will be treated as a ‘partner’, and accordingly be regarded as a dependant. As Reevaldo holds a Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa,2 Carolina will be able to apply to accompany him or join him in the UK as his dependant.

Can she work in the UK?

As a dependant there are few restrictions on the work Carolina can do. She can also study, should she choose to do so or simply enjoy living in the UK with Reevaldo.

However, she cannot work as trainee doctor or dentist, or as a sportsperson or sports coach. Additionally, she would not be entitled to receive public funds (e.g. receive unemployment benefits).

How and when can she apply for a Tier 2 sportsperson’s dependant visa?

In order to secure a Tier 2 (Sportsperson) dependant visa, Carolina will either need to apply at the same time that Reevaldo makes his visa application, or she can apply separately/subsequently. In either case, she will need to be able to show she has savings of at least £630 for a period of 3 months.4

Since they are not married, Carolina will have to produce evidence of their relationship. This is likely to include originals of the following: bank statements, council tax/ bills, medical registration, utility bills showing that they are together etc. She also might need to provide pictures of her and Reevaldo together.

How much will her visa cost?

There will be a visa fee, currently £575, plus the Immigration Health Surcharge, currently £200 per year.

What if Reevaldo and Carolina were engaged?

If Reevaldo and Carolina were in a long term relationship, but she was not his partner (e.g. they did not live together and were therefore not in a ‘marriage-like relationship’) but they were engaged, she would be entitled to apply for a fiancée visa, but she will not be permitted to work in the UK under that visa.

She would also have to prove her English language skills.5 A fiancée visa is only granted for 6 months and it is expected they will marry within this period. Once married, Carolina will have to apply to be a Tier 2 (Sportsperson’s) dependant. After obtaining dependant status, she would be eligible to work or study.

What if Reevaldo and Carolina were in a long term relationship, but not engaged, married, or in a marriage-like relationship?

If Reevaldo and Carolina are in a long term relationship, but are not in a marriage-like relationship and are not engaged, (i.e. she was not his partner), she will not be able to accompany him unless she can demonstrate she has her own route of entry.6 However, alternative routes may only give her limited time in the UK and may not be routes to settlement.

What are Carolina’s options if she wanted to study in the UK?

If Carolina is a dependant, she can study for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree as a Tier 2 (Sportsperson’s) dependant. Alternatively if she applies for, and is accepted by, a college or university and they issue a Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS), then she will be able to apply as a Tier 4 Student in her own right.

However, time spent as a student does not count towards settlement. Carolina will need to speak English to requisite level, which she does. Regarding her right to work while studying, she will potentially be able to work part-time during term time and full-time during holidays, depending where she is studying.7

What if Carolina doesn’t want to work or study and simply wants to be with Reevaldo in the UK?

If Carolina doesn’t want to work or study, that would not be an issue if she is regarded as a dependant and secures a Tier 2 sportsperson’s dependant visa. If she is not a dependant, the alternative is to apply as a fiancée, but as mentioned above this would only secure her leave for 6 months and she cannot work. If they do not get married during her 6 months fiancée visa, Carolina would need to leave the UK.

What if Reevaldo and Carolina get married at a later date? Would this change her status?

If Carolina already held a Tier 2 (Sportsperson’s) dependant visa, then getting married would not make a difference. However, in that scenario she may want to apply to change the name on her Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) if she takes Reevaldo’s surname and changes the name in her passport.

If Carolina does not accompany Reevaldo to the UK initially and they got married subsequently, she can apply to enter the UK to marry, and would then need to switch to being a Tier 2 (Sportsperson’s) dependant. If they were to marry outside the UK, she would apply (from outside the UK) once they were married as a Tier 2 sportsperson’s dependant.

Would the position be different if Reevaldo was an EU national?

If Reevaldo was an EU national and Carolina wasn’t, she could (if she is a dependant) apply to accompany him or join him – at least until Brexit happens.

She would need to apply for an EEA family permit before entry and residence permit once she is in the UK. She would be able to work and study provided she can evidence her status as the dependant of an EU national. What rights she would have in the longer term would depend on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.8

What about if Carolina was an EU national?

If Reevaldo is not an EU national but Carolina is, she can (at the present time) come to the UK under the EU provisions in relation to freedom of movement. This means she can come to the UK without needing leave or a visa – she simply needs to show her passport from an EU member state.

After 3 months, she must be able to demonstrate if challenged that she is exercising her treaty rights (i.e. by looking for work, working or studying). If she is ‘self-sufficient’ she would also be entitled to remain.

That said, it is unclear what will happen in the future with Brexit. We expect EU nationals who are in the UK before it leaves the EU to be permitted to remain, but this is not certain. Accordingly, we strongly recommend that those who have been in the UK for 5 years apply for a permanent residence card (akin to settlement/indefinite leave to remain) and those with less than 5 years apply for a residence card to document their being in the UK.

Was Carolina able to join Reevaldo in the UK?

Carolina was able to secure a Tier 2 (Sportsperson’s ) dependant visa, which enabled her to join Reevaldo in the UK. While they are not yet engaged, Carolina and Reevaldo had been living together for two years and satisfied the criteria. However, had she not secured the dependant’s visa, she would have also qualified for a Tier 4 student visa, as she was accepted to a university in London. However, given that time spent on a Tier 4 visa does not count towards settlement and there is more freedom regarding the right to work under the Tier 2 visa, the Tier 2 visa was the preferable option.

  1. Pretty cool, right?

  2. To learn about how Reevaldo obtained his Tier 2 Sportsperson’s visa, see our detailed entry on this very topic.

  3. If Carolina is unable to meet this financial criteria, Reevaldo’s club could agree to ‘certify her maintenance’, through his Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), if she is travelling with him.

  4. She would either need to come from a UKVI-recognised English speaking country (e.g. USA, Canada, Australia), have studied for a degree taught in English, or taken a UKVI-approved English language test.

  5. For example, she may be an EU national, have her own Tier 2 General or Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa, apply for/hold a Tier 4 student visa, apply for/hold a Tier 5 Youth Mobility visa (if she is national of one of the countries within the scheme).

  6. For more on Tier 4 visas, please see the guidance from the Home Office.

  7. For more about EEA family permits, please see the guidance from the Home Office.