Home Office Agreed to Reduce Restrictions

Visa Update from HPA

Polo Times has received the latest information from the HPA regarding the ongoing visa issue, and there is finally some good news for those playing below the 15 goal level.

“Following ongoing discussions, the Home Office has finally agreed to the request of the Hurlingham Polo Association (HPA) that those playing below 15 goal (medium goal) be given more time to adjust to the recently imposed restrictions on non-EEA grooms operating at that level. The revised criteria relating to non-EEA grooms operating in polo below 15 goal are set out below.
The Home Office will not apply a cap on the number of grooms that may be issued with a Certificate of Sponsorship for the 2017 season, nor will they be prevented from working in polo below 15 goal.
Home Office Ministers have made clear that these are transitional measures and the criteria will apply for the 2017 polo season only.
The intention of the Home Office remains that only those who work at the highest level and/or will develop the sport at the highest level in the UK are eligible for admission under Tiers 2 and 5 and that polo moves to a position where non-EEA grooms are admissible under Tiers 2 and 5 only where they are accompanying overseas players coming to join a UK team, or coming as part of an overseas-based high or medium goal team.
The HPA is required to appoint a Compliance Officer to monitor the requests made for endorsement, to assess whether the applicant meets the requirements, and to conduct random spot checks on sponsors playing polo below 15 goal. The HPA is due to meet with the Home Office towards the end of June and remains committed to reaching a position that is workable for all levels of polo.
Criteria for 2017
The following criteria shall apply in respect of grooms employed for polo below 15 goal during the 2017 season:
•    Sponsorship shall only be endorsed for a sponsor who obtained at least one endorsement in the 2016 season for a groom, and no sponsor shall have more sponsorships issued in 2017 than were issued in the 2016 season;
•    No sponsor may have more than two groom endorsements;
•    No sponsorship shall be endorsed by the HPA to any person who remains under review by the Home Office at the time of application following investigation in the 2016 season
The groom must have:
• At least two years’ experience as a professional polo groom; and be able to provide:
• reference(s) from their previous employer who is a member of the HPA; or
• reference(s) from their previous employer who is a member of a recognised overseas governing body; or
• a reference from an overseas employer endorsed by an HPA member or a member of a recognised overseas governing body
       2. A contract of employment with:
• a patron recognised by the HPA as having been a patron playing polo below 15 goal in the 2016 season; or
• a player who has a contract of employment with a patron of a team playing below 15 goal;
        3. A signed undertaking by the employer to comply with all the relevant requirements.”
Back in January, the Home Office agreed a criteria which allowed those in the medium and high goal with sponsor licences, the ability to apply for visas. This criteria, along with today’s announcement by the HPA will mean business as usual for many players across all levels of UK polo for the 2017 season. However, these measures currently only stand for the 2017 season and it is not known what the criteria will be for 2018.
Photograph: Good news for polo below 15 goal. By ©www.imagesofpolo.com

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