UK Visas – a guide for the music industry banner


UK Visas – a guide for the music industry

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The UK music industry is one of the most vibrant in the world, making it a key fixture on the touring schedule of any international musician or group. Equally, musicians and bands looking to establish themselves on the music scene will often be drawn to the UK to build a fanbase – but working with an experienced UK Immigration lawyer is key to understanding the requirements imposed by the UK Immigration rules in respect of UK visas. Without appropriate approval, usually in the form of a Tier 5 visa, requiring a Certificate of Sponsorship, artists may find they are unable to achieve their dream of performing in the UK. Taking advice from an Immigration solicitor well-versed in the UK Immigration rules will be a top priority as you prepare to come to the UK.

Musicians from EU member states – and Brexit

Freedom of movement continues for the time being – although with Brexit looming large, the best Immigration solicitors in London are concerned as to what the position will be in future. For the time being, though, musicians from EU States and the EEA can tour in the UK without the need to obtain any form of UK visa or entry clearance. Brexit itself has given many UK-based musicians cause for concern, believing that it will have a significant impact on the UK’s cultural life. This is perhaps something we have had a glimpse of with recent issues faced by artists due to perform at festivals such as WOMAD in the UK this year. UK Visas and Immigration refused 3 artists permission to travel to the UK to perform at the festival, and a fourth artist was delayed by administrative Immigration issues and was 24 hours late for the scheduled slot. Influential musicians such as Peter Gabriel, founder of WOMAD, and Bob Geldof have been vocal in their concerns around the negative impact of Brexit on UK cultural life. If the issues increasingly experienced by non-EU national musicians in respect of the UK Immigration rules is anything to go by, their concerns may be well-founded.

Non-EU musicians and artists

Those musicians and artists coming to the UK to tour who are from outside the EU and EEA are required to obtain a Tier 5 visa. As with any of the UK visa routes, it’s vital to follow the rules and make sure all those who need a visa meet the eligibility criteria. These are available on the UK Visas and Immigration website, however, talking to the best Immigration lawyers you can find will make the process easier as they will be up to date on the latest requirements.

A key requirement for a Tier 5 visa is the Certificate of Sponsorship. This is not a ‘paper’ certificate, rather a unique reference number which links to information about the individual and the work they will be doing while they are in the UK. This must be obtained from a UK based organisation that is permitted to issue certificates of sponsorship. It may be that a UK agent for an artist is registered to issue Certificates of Sponsorship, but it is vital to check, and if not, to make alternative arrangements for the Certificate of Sponsorship.

Permitted Paid Engagements

Musicians coming to the UK for less than 3 months may be able to do so using the Permitted Paid Engagement route. To use the Permitted Paid Engagement route, musicians must still apply to UK Visas, providing documentation which will include:

• A formal invitation to come and perform

• Publicity material and other information

Coming to the UK from the Republic of Ireland – additional requirements

In the past, artists arriving in the UK from the Republic of Ireland were able to do so using a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK music promoter without the need to obtain a visa. This has now changed – the Home Office insisting that there has been no change in legislation just a new emphasis on the guidance. Non-EU/EEA artists are now required to have a Tier 5 visa if they are coming to the UK from the Republic of Ireland. This has been a huge blow because many acts will start a European tour in Ireland, travelling from there to the UK. The requirement to have a visa may affect this. Given the additional expense and administrative delay that this may cause, there are many concerns not just within the music industry, but amongst top UK Immigration solicitors that many artists and acts – both internationally renowned well-established artists, and those just starting out on their musical careers – will now avoid the UK.

OTS Solicitors are London based Immigration law experts with many years’ experience in all aspects of visa and Immigration law and the UK Immigration Rules. We can work with UK based music promoters and agencies, and with those based outside the UK and EU to assist in the smooth passage of artists, bands and musicians to the UK for performance and touring purposes. Based in central London makes us easily accessible, and our team of Immigration lawyers are well-practised in delivering practical and efficient solutions to Immigration issues. For more information please call us on 0203 959 9123 in confidence.

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