There are a few routes of entry for entertainers & artists. Written below are the main immigration routes for artists & entertainers coming to the UK. Whether you will need a visa before you enter the UK depends on your nationality & your reason for wanting to enter the UK.
The Visit (standard) Route
If you have Settled Status, it means you:
- Employment is not permitted under the visit routes, therefore anyone who is seeking to work in the UK will need to consider applying under the Points Based System.
- genuinely seeking entry as a visitor for the purposes stated;
- intend to leave the UK at the end of their visit;
- do not intend to undertake a course of study unless this is incidental to their visit & is no more than 30 days;
- will maintain & accommodate themselves without using public funds or taking employment other than what is permitted;
- can meet the cost of the return journey;
The Visit (standard) route is open to entertainers, artists & musicians who want to:
- give performances as individuals or as part of a group;
- take part in competitions or auditions;
- make personal appearances & take part in promotional activities;
- attend workshops & give talks about their work;
- take part in one or more cultural events or festivals on the list of permit-free festivals in Appendix 5 to Appendix V: Immigration Rules for Visitors.
It is advisable to provide information about the activities you will be doing in the UK. This can include:
- a letter of invitation from a UK organisation or an event organiser confirming the entertainer’s attendance/ participation at the event;
- confirmation of what costs (if applicable) the UK organisation will meet & whether you will be paid or not;
- evidence of your personal & financial circumstances in your country of residence. For example, a contract of employment or a letter from your employer saying you can return to your job;
- evidence of your previous travel history (for long-term visit visa applications).
Visa nationals will be required to apply online & pay the appropriate visa fee as detailed here: www.gov.uk/st&ard-visitor-visa. Make sure to select “visit-entertainer” if your main purpose is for activities in the creative sector.
Long-term visit visas are also available for artists & entertainers who are regular visitors to the UK. They are valid for periods of 1, 2, 5 or 10 years & allow visits for up to 6 months at a time.
The Visit (permitted Paid engagements) Route:
This allows you to stay in the UK for up to 1 month to undertake specific paid engagements as listed in Appendix 4 of Appendix V: Immigration Rules for Visitors. It allows professional artists & entertainers who are invited to carry out one/ a short-series of permitted paid engagements relating to their profession to work in the UK for up to 1 month.
Requirements: You must meet all the eligibility requirements as listed above & provide evidence that demonstrates:
- the activity relates to your full-time profession overseas/ qualifications where appropriate;
- you have a formal invitation from a UK-based arts organisation, broadcaster or agent, confirming details of the engagement.
Visa nationals will be required to apply online & pay the appropriate visa fee as detailed here: www.gov.uk/permitted-paid-engagement-visa.
- Although non-visa nationals can arrive at the UK border & provide the necessary documentary evidence to satisfy the officer that you meet all the requirements of the route.
Temporary workers – Tier 5 (creative & sporting)
This visa route is for paid, temporary work for up to 12 months, with a sponsor in the UK), & people coming to the UK for short-term contracts or engagements such as actors or musicians on tour, etc.
You will need a certificate of sponsorship from your sponsor(s) – either a UK business employing or sponsoring you during your stay in the UK.
- Before anyone can sponsor a migrant, they must obtain a sponsor licence.
When applying under this route, you will need to show that you are able to maintain & accommodate yourself unless your sponsor has clearly confirmed this on the certificate of sponsorship.
Visa nationals should apply for a visa under the Tier 5 creative & sporting category from the country they live in & pay the appropriate fee. Non-visa nationals can seek entry to the UK for less than three months without requiring a visa, provided they present a valid certificate of sponsorship & evidence of being able to maintain & accommodate themselves as required on arrival at the border.
Exceptional Talent – Tier 1
Here, the UK government is looking for exceptionally talented individuals who are already internationally recognised as world leaders or show the potential to become future world leaders, in the fields of science, engineering, humanities & the arts.
Successful applicants require the endorsement from one of our designated Competent Bodies.
You should first consider whether or not you meet the eligibility criteria set by the Competent Body to obtain their endorsement. These criteria can be found at the following link: www.gov.uk/tier-1-exceptional-talent. To make an application under this route, you must apply via the Home Office. Your sponsor does not take applications for your endorsement directly.
Skilled Workers –Tier 2 (General)
This category enables UK employers to employ skilled nationals from outside the resident workforce to fill particular jobs which cannot be filled by settled workers. This also includes jobs in shortage occupations.
To qualify for Tier 2, you must;
- have the offer of a job from a licensed sponsor.
- have sufficient English Language ability
- have sufficient funds to maintain yourself & any dependants
As an artist or entertainer, you can apply under this route if you are coming to fill a role that is on the current Shortage Occupation List agreed by Government, or for a job which passes a Resident Labour Market Test. You can check the Home Office website: (www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/ file/423800/shortage_occupation_list_april_2015.pdf)
- Jobs must be skilled to a certain level. The following creative sector occupations are eligible under Tier 2 (General):
- 3411 – Artists
- 3414 – Dancers & choreographers
- 3415 – Musicians
- 3416 – Arts officers, producers & directors