German Government Proposes Improved Visa Process for Esports Players

According to the German Esports Federation (ESBD), the German government is drafting new regulations that could make it easier for professional esports athletes from outside the European Union to live and compete in the country.

If the regulation comes into effect, beginning in 2020, esports players entering Germany from non-EU countries would be governed under the same rules that currently apply to athletes in traditional sports.

This means that applications for permanent residency permits would be approved in a much faster and more liberal way. Visa applicants would only have to be older than 16, be employed by an esports team that is registered in Germany, and compete in a national or international league.

The Need for New Regulations

ESBD President Hans Jagnow considers the drafted regulation good for “players, teams and the German esports location.” He also believes it would give esports tournaments and leagues hosted in the country a significant leg up on the competition. 

“Visa regulations are currently blocking the development of professional esports all over Europe,” Jagnow says. According to him, esports teams and event organizers in the EU typically have a difficult time bringing in citizens from around the world into their countries. 

With the drafting of the new regulations, Jagnow argues that the German government is “sending a strong signal” to other countries that esports athletes should be governed under the same rules as traditional sports athletes. He also thinks that passing the regulations could provide a “best-case-study” for other nations to follow suit.

The ESBD further expects that passing the new regulations would allow for easier integration of international talents into German pro esports teams. It would also provide a better legal framework for international esports leagues operating in the country. 

Finally, the new regulations would help the country prepare “for a Brexit that might cause trouble for the residency of British esports athletes in Germany.”

Changes in 2018

Last year, the German government made its initial moves towards relaxing visa requirements for esports athletes. The ruling provided them with short-term sports visas that last up to 90 days.

Earlier in 2018, CS:GO team 100 Thieves was forced to withdraw from a tournament due to issues with their visas.

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