Germany is planning to provide a new specific visa for professional esports players and instructors. These are intended to provide eligible foreign applicants in the sector with permanent residency without requiring permission from the Federal Employment Agency.
The realm of competitive video gaming is becoming increasingly popular, and governments are taking notice. Many are already starting to develop new incentives for pros who frequently travel to their home nations for important events.
The United States had already announced simplified standards for awarding P1 visas to esports professionals. Germany, on the other hand, is the first country to provide a dedicated visa programme for the esports community. The Central European Federal Republic will also be the first of the EU’s 27 major member states to implement such a scheme for professional gamers.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THE PROPOSED ESPORTS VISA?
The most significant advantage of this new system is that it grants holders permanent residency in the country. Much of the red tape in this procedure will be eliminated, allowing candidates to get residency permits without having to be evaluated by the Federal Employment Agency, as is currently the case.
Hans Jagnow, President of the German Esports Federation (ESBD), praised the new plan, saying: “The German esports visa will be a significant benefit for tournaments held in Germany. We are the first country to create a visa category just for esports. More international esports tournaments are expected to be held in Germany.”
Currently, some of the major esports tournaments held in Germany include:
- League of Legends European Championship (LEC)
- Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds Europe League (PEL)
Esports immigration is becoming increasingly prominent as countries compete for a larger portion of this burgeoning business. Germany has shown a particular interest in attracting prospective talent to its borders, notably in sectors where EU immigration alone is insufficient to satisfy skilled employment positions.
WHO CAN APPLY FOR A GERMAN ESPORTS VISA?
The esports visa is being implemented as part of the country’s aim to attract qualified international workers. The system streamlines and incentivizes third-country nationals to obtain travel authorization to visit and reside in Germany.
This will be granted to all qualifying players from outside the EU competing in some of the world’s most prestigious video gaming leagues. Applicants must meet the following requirements in order to be accepted into the scheme:
- Over 16 years of age
- Employed by a German registered esports organization or team
- Currently competing in national or international esports leagues with their team
Citizens in BRIC countries are likely to benefit the most from these new rules. Currently, some of the countries with the largest esports community outside of the EU include:
WHEN WILL THE ESPORTS VISA BE AVAILABLE?
The German government passed the Skilled Workers Immigration Act, which will allow the granting of esports visas, last year. However, it has yet to be fully implemented. It is now planned to be fully established by March 2020, when professional video gamers will be eligible for the visa programme.
WHAT OTHER WAYS CAN NON-EU CITIZENS TRAVEL TO GERMANY?
ETIAS visa waivers will be offered beginning in November 2023 for travellers travelling to Germany (and the other 25 Schengen members) for tourism or business trips lasting up to 90 days. Prospective tourists from non-EU countries will be forced to fill out an online application form before arriving in Germany when it is implemented.
This can be done three days before their departure date. Once accepted, it enables multiple admissions to Germany and the rest of the EU over a three-year period, making travel to and from Europe more easier.
Visitors who intend to stay in Germany for an extended period of time or to work full-time must apply for a Schengen visa. In this scenario, applicants must go to a German consulate or embassy in their home country to register for the most appropriate immigration scheme.
The new esports visas simplify and streamline travel permission for participants in this fast expanding industry. Once fully operational, German residence will be much more accessible to thousands of young people worldwide.