Sandro free to play again as QPR midfielder's work visa limbo ends

The Brazilian will fly back to resume training after receiving his paperwork

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The Independent Football

The Queen’s Park Rangers midfielder Sandro is returning to England today after finally obtaining his new UK work visa. The Brazilian received the paperwork on Wednesday after it was sent from the British embassy in Bogota, Colombia, where UK visas for South Americans are processed. He will fly back on Friday and then report for training.

This news brings to an end a summer of limbo for the midfielder, who has been at home in Brazil for three months while he waited for permission to return to the UK. He missed the final three games of last season and the first six of this one.

His problems began when he signed for QPR from Tottenham Hotspur on  1 September last year for a fee of  £8m. He agreed a three-year deal lasting until June 2017 and his work visa was renewed until then, but the problem was with the second part of the visa, the certificate of sponsorship.

Under normal circumstances this certificate, an electronic reference number applied for by the employer, would also last for the duration of the contract. QPR, though, obtained one only for 90 days and did not notice.

So Sandro’s certificate of sponsorship, along with his right to work in the UK, expired on 1 December 2014. Nobody knew that the player’s status had changed, though, and it was only in May, when the Home Office was conducting routine compliance checks, that it discovered Sandro was not working here legally. QPR were informed and he returned to Brazil swiftly and voluntarily and was not, contrary to some reports, deported.

The Home Office suspended QPR’s right to sponsor visas for non-EU players, which the club appealed against in late June, as well as applying for a new certificate of sponsorship for Sandro.

There was a fear that the Home Office would take a hard line, judging Sandro as an “overstayer” who could not return. But after three weeks of consideration, it reinstated the club’s sponsorship licence, opening the door for Sandro to apply for a new UK visa and return from Brazil.

Sandro knew fairly quickly that his application had been successful, but he still had to stay at home while he waited for his passport and visa to be couriered back to him.

The question of his future has been put on hold until now, but there are interested clubs across Europe, including Galatasaray. Completing a permanent or even a loan deal before Tuesday, when the transfer window closes, may be difficult but the important thing for Sandro is that he is now free to play.