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The Future of British Horseracing

Feb 27, 2024

Sarah Dyke, a passionate advocate for her constituents in Somerton and Frome, has recently voiced her concerns about the pressing issue of labour shortages in the horseracing industry within her constituency. Nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes and rolling hills of rural Somerset, the horseracing industry holds a special place in the hearts of the local community.

At the heart of this vibrant industry lies the esteemed Wincanton racecourse, a hub of exhilarating races and thrilling events that draw spectators from far and wide. Alongside the racecourse, there are several renowned training yards and stud farms, such as Paul Nicholls Racing and Joe Tizzard Racing, which have a rich history of producing champion racehorses.

However, the industry's prosperity is being hindered by the difficulty in attracting skilled workers to this remote location. The idyllic countryside setting, while undoubtedly beautiful, poses a unique challenge in terms of recruitment. Potential workers may be deterred by the distance from urban centres and the limited availability of local amenities.

To address this pressing issue, the Migration Advisory Committee has wisely recommended the addition of six horseracing roles to the shortage occupation list. This crucial step would allow for the recruitment of skilled international workers who possess the expertise and passion needed to support the growth and success of the horseracing industry in Somerton and Frome.

Nevertheless, despite the committee's recommendation, we are currently awaiting approval from the Home Secretary. It is our fervent hope that the Home Secretary recognizes the urgency of the situation and swiftly approves these crucial recommendations. By doing so, we can ensure that the horseracing industry in Somerton and Frome receives the support it needs to thrive and continue to contribute to the rich tapestry of British sport.

Non-British and Irish citizens as well as those outside of the Common Travel Area (CTA) wishing to work in the UK, will require entry clearance (a visa) or leave to remain, issued by the Home Office. The BHA agrees, maintains, and implements horseracing endorsement requirements for these individuals.

Any non-UK National (except for the Republic of Ireland) who wishes to work in British racing as a Trainer, Jockey, racing staff or in associated regulatory positions will be subject to UK Government Immigration policies. All will require appropriate permission and/or Visa to seek employment in GB and the type required will vary, depending on the nature of the work to be undertaken.

Following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, there is now no differentiation in UK Immigration Policy between European Economic Area (EEA) and non-EEA nationals. The only exception to this is for Irish citizens under the Common Travel Area arrangements between the UK and Ireland.

Visa applications are dealt with by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) which is part of the Home Office. Different visas are available depending on where you are from, the reasons for your stay, the length of stay and your circumstances. You must check if you, or someone you wish to employ, requires a UK visa.  More information on visas is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration

Under current Immigration Rules, sponsorship of general racing staff must be obtained via the appropriate points-based immigration route.

Specific approved categories may apply for a visa under the International Sportsperson route.

The International Sportsperson route is for elite sportspeople and coaches who:

  • are internationally established and whose employment will make a significant contribution to the development of their sport at the highest level in the UK
  • who will base themselves in the UK
  • will be filling a post that cannot be filled by a suitable British citizen or person who has a right to enter or stay in the UK without restriction.

The BHA is the UK government-recognised sport’s governing body for horseracing and can endorse relevant sponsors and individuals who meet relevant criteria under agreed categories.

UKVI will only issue an International Sportsperson Visa to elite individuals who meet the agreed Visa requirements, which include a BHA endorsement.

The final decision in respect of any Sponsor or Visa application is made by UKVI. If granted, individuals must at all times comply with Visa terms and immigration laws.

If you wish to sponsor such migrants, you must have a sponsor licence. Before you apply to the Home Office for a licence you must be endorsed by the approved governing body for your sport. This endorsement confirms to the Home Office that the application for a licence is from a genuine sports club (or equivalent) that has a legitimate requirement to bring migrants to the UK as sportspeople. Once licensed, you can assign certificates of sponsorship to a sportsperson or coach with a job offer that allows them to apply for entry clearance or permission to stay in the UK.

Everyone must also have a personal endorsement from the approved governing body for their sport before you assign the certificate of sponsorship.

Full details of the BHA’s current governing body endorsement criteria and application process for the International Sportsperson route of the points-based system Contact us today on 01403 801801 or [email protected]

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