Priti Patel abandons polo industry visa deal:
The Home Secretary concluded the deal that allowed 500 polo players to enter Britain despite fears of being exploited by Illegal immigrants to be over. The temporary special visa allowance for the polo industry was that was revealed in 2017 was supposedly watered down by the Queen, because she feared 2017 polo season would be ruined by the crackdown. But Ms Patel has now called the time on the deal and will close it soon.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is to end a controversial deal that allows 500 polo players and their entourage to compete in Britain each year, we have learned. It was recently revealed that the temporary special visa allowance for the polo industry had been introduced in 2017 following Buckingham Palace’s considerable interest in the issue. The previous government had tried to limit the number of expert polo players and grooms coming to the UK because the system was operated by low-skilled migrants. But the move was watered down in the midst of an industry reaction and because ministers believed the Queen was concerned that the 2017 polo season would be ruined by the crackdown. A source said that Her Majesty had become “very busy” with the plans, while a former official said that the ministers were “beyond” normal practice to address the concerns of the Palace.
The “temporary” measure was then renewed for three years. But Ms. Patel has now announced the time of the arrangement and will close it on April 1, risking yet another dispute with the Palace. Expert players and grooms will be able to apply for special visas until this time, which means that this year’s polo season is unlikely to be affected. But the 2021 season, from March to October, will not be able to count on foreign workers.
The Interior Ministry insiders hope the move will encourage British clubs to train more national grooms and stable staff, with visas being limited to the best players, as they were used as a backdoor in Britain. The country’s 200 polo clubs depend on an influx of seasonal workers, mostly from Argentina and Australia, but immigration officials said many of the more than 800 foreigners who entered the country with Polo visas – each of which was sponsored by a club – ended up working as farm labourers, rather than in team stables.
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are often found watching the polo at the Guards Polo Club, Windsor Great Park, Egham, Surrey The Home Office says an announcement will be made in due time, but an insider said “time was over” for special visas. Sources in the polo industry have confirmed that they have received indications from the Interior Ministry that visa requirements are expiring.
One of them revealed a letter saying that the measure was temporary and was designed to allow the sport to recruit and train enough British players and grooms.