Board of Control statement on overseas players in the North West
The North West Cricket Union (NWCU) Board of Control (BOC) met on Wednesday the 8th February 2017 to discuss the changes to the Home Office immigration rules relating to overseas sports persons for the 2017 season which were received on Tuesday 7th February 2017.
These rules were revised over the winter months by the Home Office and apply to all clubs within Northern Ireland.
The changes, enforced by UK Borders Agency, mean that only Tier 5 migrant workers are allowed to play in the NWCU Premiership. Clubs must have a current sponsor licence and must be able to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship following the issuing of a Cricket Ireland endorsement. In order to obtain UKBA/Cricket Ireland endorsement the player must have played a minimum of 5 first class cricket matches in the previous 24 months and also must have an ECB / UKCC Level 2 (or equivalent) cricket coaching qualification. They will further need to obtain first aid and child protection certificates as well as police clearance from their resident country.
The document further states that Standard Visitor Visa (SVV) holders cannot play for NWCU Premiership clubs but can play in the Championship or lower leagues. Players entering on SVV’s must be amateur cricketers who are not allowed to be paid or to coach, further to this the UKBA have tightened the criteria of what is an amateur cricketer.
The NWCU BOC has considered all available information on this matter, including confirmation from the Home Office as well as representations from Cricket Ireland and NWCU clubs. The BOC can confirm that these changes have been stipulated by the Home Office and as such need to be enforced with immediate effect.
Clubs are advised that the responsibility for ensuring the players meet the criteria as set out by the Home Office lies with them. Neither the NWCU or Cricket Ireland are qualified to give advice on immigration matters and should clubs require more information they should read the guidance available online through the Home Office website or contact the UKBA directly.