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Visa – A “visa” is synonymous with a “work permit” as it is another term commonly used for a similar purpose. A visa is an official governmental authorization document that is obtained by an individual or a business on behalf of a person to enable them to travel, work, study, and/or visit a country that they are not a citizen of.

Essentially, it permits a person to enter another country for a myriad of different purposes including for business and work matters, scholarly and educational pursuits as well as for other purposes such as tourism.[1] Consequently, each country has its own distinct visa application and approval process along with specific protocols, timelines, and criteria that must be adhered to.[2]

Additionally, some nations may also impose specified costs to submit an application and to successfully obtain a visa for a desired purpose which should be followed prior to attempting to visit the country.[3] This fact means that if an individual wishes to travel to another country that they are not a citizen of, they must be aware of and follow any applicable visa regulations to ensure that they can legally travel to the desired nation.

The potential repercussions for failing to properly obtain a valid visa prior to travelling to a foreign destination could include the individual being denied entry to the country as well as potentially being barred from re-entering the nation at a later date or other potential sanctions such as requiring an “inadmissibility” waiver to be filed and approved for any future visa applications.[4]

Accordingly, many countries require a person or an entity to apply for a visa with the appropriate governmental agency depending on the type of desired visa. Each nation has its own governmental department, as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.C.I.S.) is the entity responsible for issuing visas in the United States and the U.K. Visas and Immigration (UKVI) is tasked with this process in the United Kingdom.


Additionally, some countries possess different visa classifications or categories depending on the status of the worker, the type of work to be performed, and the length of time that the authorization is needed for.[5] For instance, a non-U.S. citizen professional esports player, on-air broadcaster, or coach attempting to visit the United States to compete in an esports tournament or desiring to earn a salary or sponsorship payment from a United States-based esports team or event organizer must obtain the proper visa from the U.S.C.I.S. which in many cases may be achieved by securing either an O-1 or P-1A U.S. visa.[6]

In fact, each different visa classification has its own distinct requirements and evidentiary criteria that must be satisfied in order to successfully obtain the desired visa classification to enter the country to the perform the specified service.[7] Similarly, other nations have established their own unique classifications and categories related to individuals involved in the esports business. For instance, Germany created a separate visa that non-German citizens can apply for to be eligible to compete in an esports event located within the country.[8]

Similarly, esports competitors wishing to enter Japan to participate in a local event must obtain a “category 3 entertainment” visa from the appropriate governmental body.[9] South Korea also requires a specific visa, the “E-6 visa” for a foreign individual to enter the nation to compete in an esports event located in the country.[10]  Similarly, the United Kingdom requires that an individual obtain a visa to engage in a “permitted paid engagement” which includes esports competitive players competing in a match.[11] Finally, the Netherlands also established a separate esports visa category to encourage esports competitors to live and compete within the country.[12]

[1] ‘Requirements for Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visas’ (U.S. Customs & Border Protection, 3 January 2018) <> accessed 5 March 2024.

[2] ‘Immigration and Nationality Act’ (U.S. Customs & Border Protection, 10 July 2019) <> accessed 5 March 2024.


[3] ‘Filing Fees’ (U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, 21 February 2024) <> accessed 5 March 2024.

[4] ‘I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver’ (U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, 30 January 2024) <> accessed 5 March 2024; ‘Unlawful Presence and Inadmissibility’ (U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, 24 June 2022) <> accessed 5 March 2024; ‘Visa processing times: applications outside the UK’ (Gov.UK, 19 February 2024) <> accessed 5 March 2024.

[5] ‘Directory of Visa Categories’ (U.S. Dept. of State) <> accessed 5 March 2024.

[6] Justin M. Jacobson, Esq., The Essential Guide to the Business & Law of Esports & Professional Video Gaming (CRC Press 2021) 90-93.

[7] Justin M. Jacobson, Esq., The Essential Guide to the Business & Law of Esports & Professional Video Gaming (CRC Press 2021) 93-95.


[8] Adam Fitch, ‘Germany introduces dedicated visa for esports’ (Esports Insider,22 December 2019) <> accessed 5 March 2024; ‘Esports Visa’ (eSport-Bund Deutschland) <> accessed 5 March 2024; ‘Esports Visa’ (The German Games Industry Association) <> accessed 5 March 2024.

[9] ‘Working visa: Entertainer’ (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 17 March 2023) <> accessed 5 March 2024; Noogen, ‘Japan Issues First Athletic Visas to Foreign Players in the LJL’ (Esports Heaven, 30 March 2016)<> accessed 5 March 2024.

[10] ‘E-6 (Culture and Entertainment) Visa’ (Embassy of the Republic of Korea, 30 November 2015) <> accessed 5 March 2024; Moin Khot, ‘Global Esports Is Exploring Bootcamp Options Due to South Korean Visa Issues’ (AFK Gaming, 3 December 2022) <> accessed 5 March 2024.

[11] ‘Visit the UK as a Standard Visitor’ (Gov.UK) <> accessed 5 March 2024; Jack Freeland, ‘Understanding visas for overseas esports competitors coming to the UK’ (Esports Insider, 31 August 2022) <> accessed 5 March 2024.

[12] Esports Insider, ‘Esports Around The World: Netherlands’ (Esports Insider, 23 February 2024) <> accessed 5 March 2024; Alexander Lee, ‘Governments around the world are changing their policies to support esports’ (DIGIDAY, 30 January 2023) <> accessed 5 March 2024; Ivan Šimić, ‘How Team Liquid helped bring esports visas to the Netherlands’ (Esports Insider, 23 February 2024) <> accessed 5 March 2024.



  • Justin M. Jacobson

    Justin M. Jacobson, Esq. is an entertainment and esports attorney located in New York City. For the last decade, he has worked with professional athletes, musicians, producers, DJs, record labels, fashion designers, as well as professional gamers, streamers, coaches, on-air talent, and esports organizations. He assists these creative individuals with their contract, copyright, trademark, immigration, tax, and related business, marketing, and legal issues. He is a frequent contributor to many industry publications and has been featured on a variety of entertainment, music, and esports publications and podcasts, including Business Insider, The Esports Observer, Esports Insider, Tunecore, and Sport Techie. Justin has positioned himself as a top esports business professional working with talent in a variety of franchise leagues including the Overwatch League, Overwatch Contenders, and Call of Duty Pro League as well as in many popular competitive titles such as Fortnite, CS:GO, Gears of War, Halo, Super Smash Brothers, Rainbow 6, PUBG, Madden, and FIFA and mobile games such as Brawlhalla, Clash of Clans, and Call of Duty mobile. Previously, he worked with various esports talent agencies as well as in an official capacity on behalf of several esports teams and brands. He currently is an Adjunct Professor of Esports at University of North Carolina Wilmington, a member of the industry board for the International Journal of Esports and has authored “The Essential Guide to the Business & Law of Esports & Professional Video Gaming.” View all posts

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