Motor Sport News - - Racing News - Pho­tos: Jakob Ebrey, kart­

A sports lawyer has ques­tioned the need for non-euro­pean driv­ers to ap­ply for a visa that cov­ers pro­fes­sional sport.

The sport’s UK gov­ern­ing body, the Mo­tor Sports As­so­ci­a­tion, re­cently wrote to teams ad­vis­ing them that driv­ers com­pet­ing in categories such as BRDC Bri­tish F3 ( above) and Bri­tish F4 could be deemed as pro­fes­sional sports peo­ple ac­cord­ing to a Home Of­fice def­i­ni­tion and there­fore non-eea driv­ers may need a visa to race.

One of these teams has since sought a le­gal opin­ion on the is­sue and lawyer Dan Chap­man has called into ques­tion the need for a visa.

“The key is­sue here is that fun­da­men­tally visas are about work,” he said. “The first point to con­sider is whether or not a driver even needs a work per­mit. A driver could come into the coun­try from, say, Brazil on a vis­i­tor visa. Can that vis­i­tor then get into a car and race or is that work? The MSA aren’t con­sid­er­ing this ques­tion. As­sum­ing it is work, and there are ar­gu­ments both ways, you then need to look at work per­mits and de­ter­mine what the def­i­ni­tion of a pro­fes­sional sports per­son is.

“The MSA have quoted the part of the def­i­ni­tion that says a pro­fes­sional may be paid or un­paid but they do not go on to ad­dress the part which ex­cludes the per­son who is act­ing ‘as an am­a­teur’.

“I would say that in many cases – and it will be spe­cific to each in­di­vid­ual – an am­a­teur is some­one pur­su­ing a hobby, which may or may not lead to pro­fes­sional ac­tiv­ity in the fu­ture and fund­ing it them­selves. In many cases, there are com­pelling le­gal ar­gu­ments that some­one who is pay­ing for a drive is an am­a­teur and there­fore will not need the work per­mit.

“It has yet to go be­fore an im­mi­gra­tion judge but a judge might raise eye­brows at the sug­ges­tion that some­one who has to pay a six-fig­ure sum for just a few hours of rac­ing in a sea­son is a pro­fes­sional.”

The MSA said it had re­layed a Home Of­fice con­cern and had stated from the out­set that teams should “seek ad­vice from an OISC (Of­fices of the Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices Com­mis­sioner) im­mi­gra­tion ad­vi­sor, or some­one who is oth­er­wise ex­empt from such a reg­is­tra­tion re­quire­ment, for ex­am­ple a qual­i­fied solic­i­tor”.

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