Home Office Agreed Criteria
HPA Endorsement Criteria for Polo for 2018 from the Home Office:
Please click the link below for the full agreed Sponsor licence and migrant (non-EEA) endorsement requirements for polo for 2018.
Statement from the Hurlingham Polo Association on Visas and Tournament Conditions for 2018
The HPA recognises that the Home Office’s rule changes on visas to play in the UK have created great hardship for hard-working polo professionals from overseas, many of whom have been supporting our British season for a decade or more. These rule changes are something that the HPA opposed and regrets. The effect of those changes has been damaging to all concerned, and to polo in the UK. However, we must make it clear that it was not our decision to make the changes, but a UK Government decision taken by our Home Office which decides who is permitted to work or visit here. The UK Government’s decision was taken over the HPA’s objection.
In spite of our efforts to explain how and why the changes were made, comments implying that the HPA was working with the Home office to put in place tighter restrictions for non-EEA players continue to be made. This is incorrect, the HPA has always and will continue to oppose these changes. We have been told that the justification for such comments is the standard response, quoted below, from the various Government Ministers and Members of Parliament to letters asking for overseas players and grooms to be allowed to continue to come here.
“As you are aware, the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) as the Sport’s Governing Body is responsible for working with the Home Office to set the criteria against which any polo player or groom application may be evaluated.”
If read in isolation, the above sentence might suggest that the HPA is working with the Home Office to restrict non-EEA players from playing in the UK. However, the sentence that followed, set out below, makes it clear that it is the Home Office, not the HPA, that ‘requires the criteria to ensure that only elite level sportspersons are able to obtain an endorsement’.
“The Home Office requires the criteria to be reviewed regularly to reflect the way that sports can change over time and ensure that only elite level sportspersons are able to obtain an endorsement.”
Prior to 2016, the Home Office agreed with the HPA that ‘elite level’ included polo players with a handicap of 2 or more. In most parts of the UK, and in many other countries, a 2 goal handicap places a player in the top 5% of players locally. However, in 2016, the Home Office changed its position and informed the HPA that ‘elite’ to the Home Office meant 5 goals and high goal polo. The HPA disagreed strongly with this but, despite numerous efforts and several meetings, could only move the Home Office to accept 4 goal players playing 15 goal or higher tournaments and above as ‘elite’. The HPA disagrees with this restrictive definition of ‘elite’ and it is the HPA’s position that non-EEA players should not be restricted to the current handicap criteria and should be allowed to play polo below 15 goals.
Despite the HPA’s opposition, the Home Office is not currently prepared to accept as ‘elite’ players below a 4 goal handicap or tournament polo below 15 goals. Thus, the Home Office has ordered the HPA to apply the criteria as set by the UK Government. Failure to do so will result in the HPA being suspended, as it was from October 2016 to January 2017, which means that no visas whatsoever can be obtained by anyone for polo.
The HPA has spent very significant resources in both time and money opposing the Home Office’s restrictions and is continuing to persuade Members of Parliament and the UK Government to change this imposition on our sport, with partial success so far. In its efforts, the HPA has been and is being assisted by the Federation of International Polo (FIP). To suggest that the HPA was complicit or acquiescent in the Home Office’s measures restricting the ability of non-EEA players to come play in the UK bears no relation to the truth. Polo is not the only sport to have been subjected at short notice to measures against the advice and wishes of the governing body and the actions taken here in the UK against non-EEA players and grooms, and in Argentina against UK players have been both unjustified and counterproductive.
The HPA has made some significant changes for 2018 and we are concerned that in some cases these have either not been read or passed on, or are unclear.
- The Home-Grown Player (HGP) rule has been removed;
- The rule requiring professionals less than 6 goals who wish to play the 22 goal to be a member of one of the big clubs the previous season has been removed;
- A handicap to play 22 goal tournaments can now be applied for if a player was either a member of one the big clubs or played sufficient Victor Ludorum tournaments the previous season, or has played sufficient high goal polo overseas. The last requires a detailed CV form signed off by the player’s Association.
Please find below a table setting out the changes for polo in the UK for the 2018 season that were published on 11 December. The lower levels are included as EU players now have greater freedom to play with the removal of the Home-Grown player rule.
|Level||Year||No & Min H’Cap of Non-EEA||If not a Patron or HGP and less than 6 must have been member of big club||If not a Patron or HGP must have a min h’cap||22 Goal H’cap||Min H’Cap||Max H’cap||Max H’cap two players|
|22 Goal||2017||2 & 4||Yes||N/A||–||0||–||–|
|2018||2 & 4||Removed||–||Yes||0||–||–|
|18 Goal||2017||2 & 4||N/A||3||–||0||–||–|
|2018||2 & 4||–||Removed||–||0||–||–|
|15 Goal||2017||1 & 4||N/A||3||–||0||–||–|
|2018||1 & 4||–||Removed||–||0||–||–|
If anyone has any queries, please contact the HPA office.
Click below for more information from Gov.uk