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UK Live hails new Ireland visa waiver process

Britain’s live music industry has welcomed new Home Office rules that will allow non-EAA artists, bands and sportspeople to enter the UK from the Irish republic, and work for up to three months, without a visa.

The new entry arrangements, announced today (28 February), will put an end to the requirement for individuals from outside the European Economic Area (EAA) working in the creative and sporting industries to apply for a visa to perform in the UK when entering through the Republic of Ireland.

The change follows months of meetings between Home Office officials, UK Music and the UK Live Music Group, whose members include the Concert Promoters Association, Entertainment Agents’ Association and International Live Music Conference (ILMC).

UK Music and the Live Music Group wrote to the government last October to urge a rethink of guidance that forced non-EAA, and particularly American, artists to apply for UK visas when entering via Ireland. According to the letter, UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) altered the guidance in August 2017 so that visiting entertainers from countries such as the US and Canada would require British visas – changes, they allege, that were not properly advertised, with no consultation was held with industry stakeholders, with the result that “it was virtually unknown across the industry very recently.”

“Ensuring the best international talent can perform in the UK is vital for the creative industries’ continued success”

Commenting today, UK Music CEO Michael Dugher says: “I am delighted to have worked, alongside our Live Music group, with the Home Office to identify a solution so that non-EU artists and their crews can still enter the UK via Ireland under a certificate of sponsorship.

“The live music industry, which contributes around £1 billion to the economy, will put this into practice so that we can continue to attract the biggest and most talented global artists to perform at our world-leading concerts, festivals and venues.”

Eligible individuals will still be required to have a certificate of sponsorship (COS) under the Tier 5 (temporary worker – creative and sporting) route, which has been in existence since 2008.

Steve Richard, of T&S Immigration Services, who has been “struggling for [the new rules] since at least last May”, welcomed the changes, saying they should put an end to confusion around the rules for entering the UK through its nearest neighbour.

Previously, he tells IQ, passengers travelling on Aer Lingus flights from the US to London or Manchester – but which stop off in Dublin first – “don’t realise they’re even going to see Irish immigration, so they land in Dublin and find their cards aren’t valid, their COSes aren’t valid – sometimes Irish immigration don’t even know what the COS is. We’ve had musicians slung in jail overnight for not having the proper documents.”

“I am delighted to have worked, alongside our Live Music group, with the Home Office to identify a solution”

Richard also reveals T&S has already trialled the new system several times, and “it’s worked perfectly so far”.

Commenting on the new regulations, Caroline Nokes, minister of state for immigration at the Home Office, says in a statement: “Our creative industries are world leading. Not only do we produce elite talent, but we also host some of the most exciting live events in the world.

“Ensuring the best international talent can perform in the UK is vital for the creative industries’ continued success and that is why we launched this new process, ensuring creative talent can easily arrive to perform in the UK directly from Ireland. I look forward to continuing to work with UK Music and the wider sector so our leading live music industry can continue to thrive.”

Detailed information on the Common Travel Area (CTS) between Britain and Ireland, including all forms and guidance, can be found on the Gov.UK website.


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