Industry organisations are calling for the government to ditch “bureaucratic box-ticking” and apply “common-sense” over touring artistes from the Americas playing in the country.
In August, the UK and Visa and Immigration Service (UKVI) altered guidance to require North American artistes to apply for UK visas if arriving via the Republic of Ireland.
Critics of the changes accuse the government of not advertising or consulting adequately over the new processes.
A letter signed by bodies such as UK Music, the Association for Festival Organisers and the Music Manager’s Forum was delivered to the Home Office by Labour MP Alex Sobel.
Addressed to the Minister of State for Immigration Caroline Nokes, it calls for a reversal of recent changes to Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) arrangements for visiting entertainers from the Canada, South America and the US.
“The Home Office needs to apply some common-sense to this issue and reinstate the old system for visiting entertainers,” says Sobel. “This is bureaucratic box-ticking of the worst sort.”
Co-founder of music business visas specialist T&S Immigration Services Steve Richard tells Audience that he is hopeful the rule will be amended soon.
“That issue came about entirely because the Home Office decided to tinker with their internal rules without consultation, and without properly telling those it might impact,” he says.
“It has agreed it needs to amend its internal guidance and allow touring entertainers to present their paperwork on arrival from Ireland.”
A remote landing option has been proposed, he says, meaning artistes can get work permits activated remotely when they cross Republic-Northern Ireland/UK border.
In the US, veteran expert Ronald Zeelens of RAZCo Visas in New York says he was not made aware of the change, but admitted he was “very surprised by it”.