As the Scottish city of Glasgow prepares to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, 71 national teams are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to compete for the coveted title of Commonwealth Champion over only 11 days from 23rd July to 3rd August. The Games are one of the world’s largest sporting events and Glasgow will welcome 6,500 athletes and officials to its Athletes’ Village as well as approximately 15,000 volunteers who will assist in ensuring the Games run smoothly.
The Commonwealth Games Federation, the Scottish government and Glasgow City Council have pledged to ensure the Games will be ‘safe and secure’ for all and the Home Office has indicated that it wishes workers and trade as well as participants and visitors to enter the UK ‘swiftly and easily’. So how will officials, athletes, their support teams and families as well as overseas spectators enter the UK and how efficient will the process be?
The United Kingdom Visas & Immigration (UKVI) announced a few months ago that it would provide a special category for ‘Games family members’ such as athletes, coaches, officials of sporting bodies, or accredited members of the media to enable them to enter the UK in preparation for the 2014 Games..
Those who qualify as Games family member will not need a visa to come to the UK for the 2014 Games if they wish to arrive in the UK between 4th March and 3rd August 2014. The Home Office has instead introduced a process which requires the above mentioned individuals to hold a valid passport and an accreditation pass from the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee in order to attend the Games. They will also be required to submit biometric information (fingerprints and facial photographs) in their home countries by 30th April 2014 for the accreditation passes to be issued. On arrival to the UK leave to enter will then be granted until 3rd September 2014.
Where biometric information should be submitted varies from country to country. Those applying in India and Sri Lanka for example, will have to attend appointments at a selection of British High Commission posts, whereas other nationals such as those of Guyana and Mozambique will be using Visa Application Centres. Similar to the special immigration controls put in place for the London 2012 Olympics, the scheme is designed to fast-track Games family members’ entry into the UK.
Other Games participants, who are not Games family members but qualify under the Games workforce or security category, will need to meet the usual requirements for entering and working in the UK. Overseas spectators, including athletes’ family members who would normally require a visa to visit the UK, will also still be required to apply for visitors’ visas which are usually processed within 15 working days, depending on the country in which the application is made. More information is available here: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/visiting/cg-2014/
It appears, therefore, that the UKVI has made a conscious effort to make immigration surrounding the 2014 Games streamlined and efficient. The Commonwealth Games Federation and Glasgow City Council have planned an exciting programme of cultural and sports events throughout the upcoming months in anticipation of the Games. Find out here how you can get involved: http://www.glasgow2014.com/.
If you have any questions or queries about applying for a UK visa please contact us or call 0207 0012121.