Getting a Visa for footballers, especially as a Nigerian, to play in Europe or any of the top countries has never been easy. And it gets more difficult if you have never played outside the shores of Nigeria with the national team.
If you intend to play for lowly non-European countries like Turkey, Israel, and in any of the Arab leagues, you are more likely to get a Visa than playing in a European league.
Firstly, European embassies are extremely cautious of Visa for footballers who are Nigerians and are going to a European country on the ground of being invited by a football club as stats show that 70% of Nigerian footballer hopefuls who fail trial at the European club refuse to return home.
They instead abscond and try to get other jobs or form a gang that poses a threat to the national security of the club.
This makes it really hard to get an approved Visa application from a European country.
Visa For Footballers
Top 10 European Countries Likely To Grant Visa For Footballers And The Requirements
There are some countries you could play for in Europe without having to go through tooth and nail.
They have their rules and requirements, but these countries are generally more tolerant.
However, apart from Spain, these countries are not part of the top five European big leagues (England, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain), as those are more developed leagues and barely need foreign input.
Here are the top 10 European countries to easily get Visa for footballers approved, with the first being the easiest and the last, the most difficult.
Those are the top 10 most relevant countries in Europe you would want to ply your trade with if you want it the easy way.
Still, the numbers 7 to 10 are not easy to get into, but they are more friendly to Africans coming from home and have a relaxed immigration policy.
You would, however, need to meet some criteria to successfully apply for their Visa.
Note that you must have received an invitation letter from a club in any of these countries before you think of applying for a sportsperson Visa.
Visa For Footballers Application Requirements
You will have to tender your invitation letter to the country embassy.
You will also need to tender the following:
- Local club or Academy release letter
- NFF Introduction Letter
- International Passport
- Letter of Sponsorship (from the European club)
- Bank statement of Sponsor (this is usually not necessary as clubs are considered rich to sponsor a player).
- Medical vaccination and medical clearance certificate
These are the major documents you will be needing to get your Visa approved to play in the UK.
Another thing is that you must be at least 16 years before applying for the Visa as football regulation prohibits any player lesser than 16 to cross borders for football purposes.
The UK Visa Option
Everyone wants to play in the premier league or smaller English divisions, and this is why it is extremely difficult to get an approved Visa if you are an upcoming footballer.
However, if you are already established, then you can have it easy to a considerable extent.
Bear in mind that the UK Visa is the hardest to get as it receives the highest influx of overseas players.
Also, the Brexit rule situation has made it more difficult for foreign players, including European players, to break in.
The club inviting you for trial would have to secure the FA Governing Body Endorsement certificate to make your move possible.
You can apply for three different UK Visas as a footballer, and it shall be considered in order of importance.
Tier 2 Visa (Sportsperson Visa)
This Visa is what you would be applying for if you are an already established player and above 21 years of age.
This Visa usually lasts for as long as your contract with your potential new club will be or at least three years.
If your contract lasts for five years, you will need to renew it at the third year as the UK Government states that the smaller of the two years of expiration (contract length or 3 years) will determine renewal or need for an extension.
Note that this Visa requires the need for you to pass a PBS Test which is done by having at least the following:
You must be an established player that has played at least 70% of matches with the Super Eagles in the last two years prior to application, and that the Super Eagles have not ranked lesser than 70 in the official FIFA ranking for those two years.
If you are not an established player with the national team but play with a club in the NFL, you may be considered for the VISA, but this is highly unlikely.
If you meet the above requirements, then your Visa application will be sponsored by the English club.
However, you may have to carry out the application with your own funds, with the club compensating later if you pass the medical and physical test.
Tier 5 Visa (Creative Worker And Sportsperson Visa)
This Visa is not as superior as the Tier 2 Visa and lasts only 12 months or the player contract length.
Its renewal is the same as the tier 2 Visa, and the club ends up securing the needed Governing Body endorsement and would issue a certificate of sponsorship for all your expenses if you pass the medical test.
This Visa requirement is just the same as the tier 2 Visa, with the only difference being the length.
You will also need to be an established player and meet all requirements just like the tier 2 Visa.
If you end up being successful with your club, the UK Government and FA will permit an upgrade to the Tier 2 Visa.
Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) Visa
This Visa does not require you to be an established professional, but you will need to be between 18-20 for the UK Government to permit your club to sign you.
When signed, you will need to join the Club academy and be groomed to senior level.
That automatically gives your club the liberty to upgrade your Visa to a Tier 2 Visa.
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Those are basically all that you need to know about getting Visa for footballers in Nigeria – if not other parts of the world as well.
This article was most recently revised and updated 1 year ago