Home / News / Everything Athletes and Teams Should Know About the New German Esports Visa


Germany Esports VisaGermany will establish a new Esports Visa in March 2020, due to the amendments to the German Employment Regulation, which will enable esports athletes participating in esports competitions to get residence permits without the approval of the German Federal Employment Agency.

This way, Germany has once again proved that it is always at least one step ahead of other countries when it comes to attracting foreign talent, not only by being an economically highly developed country but also by making it easier for skilled foreigners to come and settle in Germany.

A German Federal Foreign Office spokesperson has confirmed for Germany-Visa.org that the new regulation for participants of esports will enter into force by March 2020, and the rules of application for esports coaches and athletes will be similar to the existing ones for sports athletes.

We can confirm that, there will be a new regulation for participants of Esports competitions entering into force in March 2020. Specifically, there will be amendments to the German Employment Regulation / Beschäftigungsverordnung (a new number will be included in Section 22), allowing for the issuance of residence permits without the approval of the Federal Employment Agency,” the spokesperson explained.

The substance of the new regulation is indeed similar to the existing one for sports athletes,” the spokesperson also said.

Section 22 of the German Employment Regulation is dedicated to Special Professional Groups wishing to work in Germany, for whom no work permit is required to get a residence permit.

The section, among others, includes professional athletes or professional trainers becoming part of German sports clubs or comparable sports facilities participating in competitive sports, given that they meet the following conditions:

  • The athlete/coach is 16 years of age and older.
  • The sports club or establishment pays the athlete/coach sufficiently in order for him/her to earn a living (at least 50 percent of the income threshold of the statutory pension insurance).
  • The responsible central association for the sport and the German Sports Federation by mutual agreement confirm the athlete’s athletic qualification or the coach’s professional competence.

In order for foreign athletes and coaches to be able to work in Germany they will need to initially require an entry visa that must later be converted into a residence permit. The residence permit application must be approved by the local Foreigners Authority of the intended place of residence in Germany.

This residence permit allows them, respectively to practice their sport professionally in Germany for a specific time period.

German Esports Association and Teams Welcome the New Visa

The German Esports Federation (ESBD), an association of organized esports in Germany founded in November 2017, was the first to announce that the German Federal Government and the States have approved new changes in regulation relevant to the recently introduced Skilled Immigration Act.

The President of the ESBD Hans Jagnow, applauded the introduction of the esports visa, in a press release issued by the association.

The German esports visa will be a big advantage for events hosted in Germany. We are the first country to establish a dedicated visa category for esports. There are more international esports events expected to take place in Germany,” he said.

When asked about concrete problems that athletes, coaches and teams as a whole encountered in the past to get a visa to Germany, Jagnow’s team provided two examples when teams were unable to attend esports tournaments due to visa issues.

In October last year, two Asian teams missed a $300,000 tournament ESL One Hamburg 2019 due to lack of visas.

The Chinese top team Invictus Gaming and the Southeast Asian team Geek Fam were forced to cancel participation in the tournament as they failed to get their visas, though it is unclear whether their visa applications were rejected, or approved too late.

It was a shame that we were affected by visa issues once again. However, the party must go on. We wish everyone good luck and have fun at #ESLOne Hamburg 2019,” team Invictus Gaming tweeted at the time.

Earlier in July 2019, three Indian teams who had qualified for the PUBG Mobile Club Open India finals which took place in Berlin, Germany, had their visa applications rejected.  The three teams, Team SOUL, Team Ind, Team Indian Tigers, had dominated the qualifying rounds to enter the final.

ALTERNATE aTTaX, one of the largest professional esports organizations in Germany has also welcomed the move, despite claiming there haven’t been too many difficulties securing German visas & residence permits for the current international players of ALTERNATE aTTaX.

Contacted by Germany-Visa.org, Stephan Barth, the Esport Project Manager at ALTERNATE aTTaX can recall only one case the organization had problems when applying for a visa for an international player.

Not really. Few years ago, we had some problems with our Russian player of the female CS squad,” referring to Olya Khoroshilova, a woman of Russian nationality that was part of the all-women team until mid-2015. He however, did not go into further details to reveal what these problems were.

While Barth considers that the new visa is in any case a great improvement for all German organizations with foreign players, he does not believe that visa requirements for esports events to Germany and other countries have jeopardized the progress of esports at a higher tempo.

Yet, President Jagnow does not see the issue the same way. To him, visa regulations are currently blocking the development of professional esports all over Europe, claiming that teams and tournament organizers often have difficulties bringing non-EU citizens into their respective countries.

The plans of the German government are sending a strong signal to other countries and would be providing a best-case-study for other nations to follow up on“, Jagnow said in September last year, announcing the upcoming visa, while also adding that the new visa would help the association to get ready for a Brexit that may cause troubles for the residency of British esports athletes in Germany.

Interesting Facts About Esports

Esports, also known as electronic sports, e-sports, or eSports, is a new form of sport competition using video games.

Even though many countries still refer to it as “electronic gaming”, other countries as Germany have recognized it as a sport, and treat esports athletes the same as athletes of other types of sports

According to a report from market research firm Newzoo, 380 million people worldwide watched esports in 2018 including 165 million esports enthusiasts, a large share of which are based in North America, China and South Korea.

Esports is the most fast-growing international sport with millions of fans and a billion-dollar industry. It is estimated that the booming esports industry was worth about $138 billion in the same year.

Industry’s high worth has enabled athletes to earn millions at a very young age, within a few years. Among the players with the highest income in esports are Johan Sundstein, Jesse Vainikka, and Anatham Pham.

Johan Sundstein, also known as NTtail to gaming fans, is a 26-year-old who has earned almost $7 million playing in 108 tournaments to date. Whereas, the Finnish 27-year-old Jesse Vainikka, known as HerAx in the Sports world, has made $6.47 million competing in 64 esports tournaments.

The youngest of the three, the 20-year-old Anathan Pham had already earned $6 million while he was still 19, $3.14 million of which in 2019 alone.