Non-EEA Players and Grooms
All migrant applications and Certificates of Sponsorship assigned in the sporting sector must be endorsed by the Sport’s Governing Body and the Home Office is in the process of conducting routine meetings with each Sports Governing Body. As part of that process, Home Office representatives met with the HPA in August to discuss the revised criteria which the HPA had put forward for their consideration and comments. The current HPA endorsement criteria for polo players and grooms was agreed with the Home Office in 2008 when the Points Based System replaced the Work Permit system.
At the meeting the Home Office emphasised to the HPA that the published purpose of the Tier 5 Sporting route is;
‘ for players and coaches internationally established at the highest level and/or whose employment will make a significant contribution to the development of the sport at the highest level in the UK, and that post cannot be filled by a suitable settled worker’.
The Home Office have put forward that the HPA should consider raising the endorsement criteria to fall more closely in line with the above, as have other equestrian sports. Specifically, they have suggested the HPA consider restricting the criteria to players of 5 goals and above playing at the highest level and to the grooms travelling with them.
The HPA have put their case to the Home Office, defending the strength of the sport under the current criteria, and are awaiting a response. It is hoped that a sensible and workable criteria can be agreed for the benefit of the sport.
In any event, sponsors seeking endorsements for players will be required to confirm that the employment is the player’s primary employment and that any supplementary employment meets the immigration rules.
Updates will be given as further information becomes available.