The interest in eSports in Germany has grown at an enormous rate over the last number of years and this is reflected in the new eSports Visa. This visa will be brought in with the new Skilled Immigration Act which we have written about recently. The new Skilled Immigration Act will be brought in during March of this year and will change many aspects of immigration to Germany.

The eSports Visa will also have a transformative impact. It will allow athletes and coaches in this field to avail of the opportunity of permanent residency in Germany should they fulfil the necessary criteria. In this article, we will outline some different aspects of the eSports visa. However, should you require more information about the eSports visa, the Skilled Immigration Act or German Immigration law generally please contact us directly.

If you have a particular issue or legal question concerning German Immigration Law, you can contact our law office anytime. Our lawyers for German Immigration Law can be reached by phone, email and also provide video conferencing options. For more legal information, please visit our Immigration Information Germany Center.

What is Required for an eSports Visa?

The eSports visa will be brought into law in March 2020. This new visa type aims to allow skilled and accomplished athletes to make Germany their home and thus improve the German eSports industry. On this front, the visa extends to both athletes and coaches in this field. It will be in many ways similar to the residence permit requirements for athletes and coaches in other sports under § 22 German Employment Regulation / Bechäftigungsverordnung. This regulation allows athletes to come to Germany and avail of a residence permit if:

  • They are over the age of 16,
  • The sports club or body pays the athlete/coach sufficiently for them to earn a living (in this case, at least 50% of the income threshold of the statutory pension insurance).
  • The German Sports Federation and the relevant sporting body confirm the athlete’s athletic qualification/coaching competence.

It has been stated that this section will be amended to allow eSports athletes to be included. Therefore, it would appear that the eSports Visa will be based on similar requirements. Having a residence permit allows a person from a non-EU country to settle in Germany. The visa will not grant eSport athletes a permanent right of residence straight away, but if they do stay longer, such an option could open itself up to them.

Currently, German law allows eSport athletes to come to Germany for a short period to compete in events. This is regulated under the Schengen Visa but this new move will enable athletes to move to Germany to join or establish eSports teams here if they fulfil the legislative requirements.

Germany: Attractive for eSports Athletes

As a country to settle in, Germany has many advantages. Germany is situated at the heart of Europe, so the entire EU is accessible for those settled here. The country offers opportunities for further education and job development, as well as the diversity of the cities here. In truth, Germany has something for everyone.

For these reasons, it is clear why Germany is one of the most popular countries in the world regarding inward migration. Germany’s powerful economy has led it to be a powerhouse in Europe, but it is developing into a forward-thinking country. The economy has to grow from one fit for the 20th century into one suitable for the new realities of the 21st century.

As an eSports arena, Europe is trailing behind other parts of the world, particularly North America and Far-East Asia. However, it is a growing area. In Germany, there have been well-publicised events in Berlin and events like ESL One here in Cologne. Furthermore, with famous sporting institutions such as FC Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen opening eSports departments, it is clear that this growth will continue into the future.

Moreover, the area of eSports in Germany has a governing body in the form of the German Esports Federation (ESBD). It is now the first country to offer a dedicated eSports visa. The ESBD itself has welcomed the new eSports visa with open arms and believes it to be a significant step forward. It is clear that Germany is seeking to become one of the leading countries for eSports in the world.

eSports: A Growing Industry

This shouldn’t be a surprise when one looks closely at the industry. The eSports industry is one of the fastest-growing in the world. Successful players and teams can now earn similar amounts of money to athletes in other fields. The amount of money available as prize funds is growing at a tremendous rate. With events worldwide now attracting tens of thousands of visitors and millions more watching their favourite gamers and eSport athletes online through Twitch and YouTube, this is to be expected. In reflection of this growth, major sporting institutions such as Manchester United are also looking to set up eSports branches.

From a business perspective, eSports also present a huge opportunity. The audience for such events are primarily (but not exclusively) younger people. These younger people consume the products and are devouring content about the world of eSports. This audience is a potential long-term one who will consume such products in the future. It is quite possible that for some of this audience, the achievements and endeavours of their favourite eSports athletes and teams will excite them as much as those of a Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund do for a more traditional sporting audience. Moreover, as our usage of the internet increases and technology improves, gaming and eSports look set to continue growing into the future.

The Skilled Immigration Act 2020

As stated earlier, the eSports visa will be delivered as part of the new Skilled Immigration Act. This piece of legislation has been a law sought after for many years. Its primary purpose is to contend with the shortage of skilled workers in Germany. The government’s stated aim, with the Skilled Immigration Act, is to attract around 25,000 new workers to Germany. These workers would fill positions in skilled jobs that have gone unfilled by German and EU workers. One of the most important aspects of the Act is that companies will no longer need to prove they have first looked for German or EU workers in the field.

The Act has been designed with a need for workers in the fields of IT, communications and engineering to the forefront. However, it will not be limited to these fields. The creation of the eSports visa through this legislation is proof of that. It is hoped that this overdue legislation will allow Germany to lead the way in more modern areas of the economy. Germany requires skilled workers and fresh thinking, and the hope is that the Skilled Immigration Act will lead to this result. If you need more assistance with the Skilled Immigration Act, please read our FAQs or contact us directly.

The eSports Visa: Conclusions

The eSports visa looks like a positive development in German legislation. It could be a significant boost for the eSports industry in Germany and thus allow the country to become a world leader in a rapidly developing industry. At Schlun & Elseven, our lawyers not only provide a range of services in the field of immigration, but we also offer services in the field of eSports. From eSport franchise agreements to copyright and trademark services to employment contracts and sponsorship deals. Our lawyers will ensure that you have the representation and counsel required.

At Schlun & Elseven, we have offices in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Aachen and also meeting facilities in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Stuttgart and Frankfurt. We offer our services in languages English as well as German. Therefore, should you require assistance with the eSports visa itself or with the legal requirements in establishing/running an eSports team in Germany, please consider Schlun & Elseven as legal representatives. Our lawyers look forward to working with you.