What it’s about?
Professional esports athletes from non-EU countries have the opportunity to apply for a longer stay in the Federal Republic of Germany in order to join a German based professional esports team. The esports visa is based on legislative changes due to the Immigration Act of 2020. The length of a granted residence depends on the terms of the athletes contract. To apply for this permanent residence esports athlete‘s have to fulfill certain requirements set out in § 22 Nr. 5 BeschV. The ESBD supports Teams, Clubs and Tournament Organizers in this process.
On the national level, esports in Germany is represented by the German Esports Federation ESBD and game esports – members of the association of the German games industry. As a national sports federation, the ESBD represents both professional esports teams and amateur clubs as well as esports athletes nationwide. The members of game esports include game developers, publishers, platform providers and service providers. Tournament Organizers are represented in both associations. In order to address esports in its entirety, both associations work together closely on a basis of trust. This also applies for providing the requirements in esports set by the German Employment Regulations. Both associations did form a joint working group in order to jointly determine the procedure for confirming “professional practice” and to define the “considerable national and international significance” of competitions. The joint working group entrusts the implementation by the ESBD, which serves as the central point of contact for the responsible ministries and applicants.
What are application conditions and where have applications to be made?
The German legislator state in § 22 (5) Employment Regulation three major conditions that esports athletes have to fulfill in order to sucessfully apply for the esports visa: 1) a minimum age of 16 years; 2) a gross salary that is at least 50 percent of the assessment ceiling for German statutory pension insurance [~ 3550€/month in 2021], and; 3) a confirmation of professional activity in esports.
Applications for the permanent residence have to be made at the appropriate diplomatic entities (e.g. embassy, consulate) of the athlete‘s non-EU home country.
The athlete’s professional activity in esports is confirmed by her or his planed participation in qualified leagues or tournaments which are of considerable national or international relevance. The German Esports Federation ESBD supports this process and the German authorities by submitting a pre-confirmed list of esports tournaments and leagues with considerable international and national relevance („qualified competition“); the ESBD also supports German esports teams and clubs with individual confirmation letters for esports athletes the team would like to sign.
How can organizers of esports events qualify their leagues or tournaments to be listed as pre-confirmed by ESBD?
In the bilingual application hub (see below), the ESBD provides a platform on which the organizers of esports events can submit applications to qualify their leagues and tournaments for the esports visa process. The criteria for qualifying are designed to ensure that relevant leagues and tournaments on national and international level are taken into account. The criteria have been developed in a joint working group between the ESBD and game esports . Based on these criteria the ESBD decides if an esports organizer’s league or tournament is eligible be seen as „qualified competition“ in esports. As a result the ESBD compiles a list of qualified leagues of tournaments and submits it to German authorities.
To fulfill the criteria for qualified competition, a league or tournament series has to be: (1) hosted on one or more yearly dates in Germany; (2) uses games with qualified age certification (USK or IARC); (3) has a national or international relevance, being a national top 3 or international top 10 tournament in the respective game used, evaluated by comparing peak viewership, average minute audience and hours watched; (4) protect the integrity of game and tournament by setting integrity protection rules and/or proof sufficient activity against cheating, doping, matchfixing; (5) integrates German law in their terms of participation, where applicable.
The list will be updated every six months by the ESBD. Therefore the application for new leagues and tournaments or confirmation of already qualified ones will take place six weeks before the list is handed over. The first application round starts on December 3rd, 2020 and ends on December 21st, 2020 at 6pm CET.
How can I apply for an individual confirmation by ESBD for a player my team wants to sign?
The individual confirmation of an athlete’s professional activity is required if athletes want to enter a league or tournament that is not listed as a qualified competition. The dynamic nature of esports and short-term developments make it necessary for athletes to be given a longer-term stay in Germany for new games. The ESBD then examines the present case according to the conditions given by law and the pre-defined criteria, such as Germany being the main location for living, training and (online) competing of the esports athlete.
The ESBD does not accept any direct applications for confirmation letters from esports athletes; please ask the management of the German team you are interested to join to get in contact with us.
If you have any further questions, please contact email@example.com.
If you are a team or a tournament organizer and need general consultation on visa topics, ESBD supports its membership with knowledge and experience. If you are not a member yet, please consider applying for ESBD membership.