This page explains the work permit criteria for ice hockey for the 2008-2009 season. These criteria were agreed following consultation with the governing bodies. This criteria is supplementary guidance to the published employer guidance notes and both sets of guidance should be referred to when making an application.
Length of season
The season for this sport runs from the end of August to the middle of April.
Permits for players or goaltenders can only be issued for teams competing in the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL). No work permits for players or goaltenders should be issued for any development leagues operating in the English, Scottish or Northern Ireland Associations.
Criteria for players
First time players
Players from USA or Canada
Players coming to United Kingdom from USA or Canada should be professional and have played in at least 75% of competitive games where they were available for selection from the following leagues, in the last complete season prior to the start date of the relevant current domestic season.
- East Coast Hockey League (ECHL)
- American Hockey League (AHL)
- National Hockey League (NHL)
- International Hockey League (IHL), formed 2007
- Central Hockey League (CHL)
Players from European elite teams
Players from European elite teams should be professional and have played in at least 75% of that team's competitive games where they were available for selection, within the last complete season prior to the start date of the relevant current domestic season (for goal tenders requirements see separate section below).
European elite league players may only qualify for a work permit if their league is a professional league within Division 1 or above of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships.
Please find below a list of the teams within the European leagues that the IIHF have confirmed as professional. If the team does not appear on this list it has not been verified as a professional club and is therefore not acceptable.
|European Country||Top professional league name||2nd professional league
|World Seniors||Czech Republic||Czech Extra Liga||1st Liga|
|Switzerland||National Liga A||National Liga B|
|Slovakia||T-Com Extra Liga||1st Liga|
|Ukraine||Premier League||1st League|
(*Russia do have a 3rd professional league - Higher League East and West)
|World Seniors Division 1||France||Ligue Magnus||Division 1|
|Germany DEL||1st Bundesliga|
|Austria||Erste Bank EHL National Liga|
|Lithuanian||Lithuanian National Championship|
|Poland||Ekstra Liga 1st Liga|
Olympic/World Championship players
Players who have represented their country in the Olympics or the World Championship should have played in at least 75% of competition games for an IIHF World Championship (seniors) national side within the 12 months prior to the work permit application. For example someone who has played the required number of games for Russia in the Olympics will satisfy this criteria.
The United Kingdom club should provide copies of any press reviews relating to the player and statistics for the previous season to demonstrate that the player meets the above criteria. Wherever possible, statistics from the overseas club for whom the player played the previous season must be provided. This must be on the club's letterhead paper. The use of statistics from 'Hockey News', or official websites such as Eurohockey, NHL.com, DHL.com and ECHL.com can be accepted where information from clubs is difficult to obtain. Statistics from Ralph Slate's website ' Hockey Db' cannot be accepted.
Extension applications for players
Where an overseas player is returning for another season (after playing in the United Kingdom during the previous season), the United Kingdom club have to demonstrate that he played at least 75% of his previous United Kingdom team's competitive games where he was available for selection.
Statistics for extensions
The club should provide a copy of the player's previous season's statistics.
Criteria for goaltenders
A goaltender coming to the United Kingdom for the first time needs to have played at least 50% of games in the previous season where they were available for selection.
Extension applications for goaltenders
If a goaltender is on the team's roster for a game then they are classed as having played. They must have played in at least 75% of games
Injuries and suspensions
Injuries for players and goaltenders will be taken into consideration if the club can provide independent medical evidence stipulating the period of the injury and the total number of games the player missed.
Games in which players were injured or in which players were suspended will be discounted from the calculation when the sports and entertainments team, UK Border Agency work out the 75% games played statistic.
Suspensions will be taken into account where the club can supply evidence supplied by the league on official headed paper.
Criteria for coaches
Coaches should possess a Level 2 IIHF qualification or equivalent or above to coach professional players. The UK Border Agency will consider applications for EIHL and English Premier League (EPL) but not for leagues lower than this.
In order to coach children in the United Kingdom, the individual must posses an IIHF Level 1 or above coaching qualification.
Where the session is being run by a qualified coach, work permit players may be allowed to assist with coaching where the information is disclosed in the player's contract and on the work permit application form.
Resident labour search
In all cases clubs should provide evidence that they have undertaken a genuine and thorough resident labour search before they apply. The resident labour search must comply with the UK Border Agency guidance for employers. Clubs should advertise vacancies in the appropriate media in line with the 'Applying for a Sports and Entertainment Work Permit - Guidance for Employers' Advertisements should include an indication of the salary offered
Change of employment (transfer) applications
Applications for players to transfer to another club during a season will be treated as a change of employment application. They will be assessed against the criteria for first applications i.e. the players will continue to qualify on the basis of 75% games played in the previous season in the qualifying league overseas.
Length of issue
Work permits for players, goaltenders and coaches will normally be issued for the length of the contract, up to a maximum of five years. The sports and entertainments team, UK Border Agency may limit the length of approval for a work permit. For example, for new clubs who have not been able to provide us with enough information as detailed in the guidance notes for employers. Most applications are for the duration of the season and as such should be granted for this period.
The salary is usually agreed as part of the contract between the individual player and employer. This and the other conditions of employment should be at least equal to those normally given to a 'resident worker' for this work. Where the salary quoted appears to be lower than expected we will seek information and advice from the sports' governing bodies and players' representatives.
This criteria should be used in conjunction with the sports and entertainments guidance for employers when making a work permit application.
The general criteria for work permit applications under the Sports and Entertainment criteria are available in the booklet 'Applying for a Sports and Entertainment Work Permit - Guidance for Employers'. This guidance can be downloaded from the right side of this page or are available in paper form from the distribution centre on 0117 344 1471 between 0900 and 1700 Monday to Friday.
For more information please contact us at:
UK Border Agency
Sports and Entertainments Team
PO Box 3468
Phone: 0114 207 6328
Fax: 0114 207 6511