National Campaign for the Arts briefing: Changes to immigration policy and pricing - 16 May 2008
In 2005 the Home Office initiated a major revision of the UK immigration system to be introduced during 2008-2009. The policy is still under development and many decisions have yet to be made. The new system is known as the Points Based System (PBS).
Under the current system there are a number of entry routes by which artists may come to the UK including: on work permits, as business visitors, as film crew on location, under a specific category for writers, composers and artists, and via an entertainers’ concession which allows entry without a work permit to certain categories of artists, including those participating in major arts festivals. For many artists, a work permit and/or a visa are not currently required.
Under PBS, artists are expected to enter via Tier 2 and Tier 5 Creative and Sporting, which are due to become active in the third quarter of 2008. Work permits will no longer exist but a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed UK sponsor will be required. Sponsors will have to demonstrate their legitimacy and pay a fee to join the sponsor register. They will be required to abide by a set of sponsorship rules and will be subject to sanctions for non-compliance. Under PBS, individuals from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), will require entry clearance, bringing the citizens of many major countries, including the USA, into the entry clearance system for the first time. Non visa nationals may come to the UK for up to three months without a visa but will still need a certificate of sponsorship. Applications for visas will normally have to be made in person and will include biometric data (finger prints) given at the point of application. It is expected that the existing Entertainers’ Concession will be transferred into a visitor category which does not involve sponsorship.
Changes to the immigration system
The following changes are now public knowledge. Further details will be published by the Home Office in due course. This briefing will be updated as further information becomes available.
• Migrants from outside the European Economic Area will require entry clearance with the exception of non visa nationals coming to the UK for up to three months under Tier 5
• Artists currently using the Entertainers’ Concession are likely to be able to use a visitor route of entry (which does not involve sponsorship)
• Migrants in Tiers 2-5 will require a licensed sponsor. The register of licensed sponsors will be public
• Prospective sponsors will have to apply for a sponsor’s licence and will be required to comply with a set of sponsorship rules, including codes of practice related to resident labour market testing. Sponsors who do not comply or who break the law will be subject to sanctions, civil penalties, and criminal proceedings. Sponsors will use an IT system to issue certificates of sponsorship, track visa applications made by their sponsored migrants, and update their records
• Work permits will no longer exist. Migrants will require a certificate of sponsorship issued by a licensed sponsor. This will be an electronic document with a unique reference number and will be an integral part of applying for a visa.
• Migrants applying for visas will complete an online self assessment determining the correct tier of entry and visa applications will also be made online. It will be possible for a person other than the applicant (eg the sponsor) to complete the forms on their behalf and to pay for their visa fee.
• Applicants will be required to give biometric data (finger prints) when making an application, and will need to attend a designated biometric collection point in person. Not all such collection points will be visa processing centres, in which case applications will be transferred to processing centres and returned. Applicants may therefore be separated from their passports during the transfer and processing of their application.
• Migrants in PBS will enter under one of five ‘tiers’ designed to accommodate different categories of migrants and conferring different entitlements. Tier 2 and Tier 5: Temporary Workers (T5:TW) are likely to be most relevant to artists, although some may use Tier 1 (Highly Skilled).
• Tier 2 is for skilled migrants with a job offer. Jobs which do not fulfil a designated skills shortage will be subject to resident labour market testing. Tier 2 can be a route to settlement. The maximum initial leave will be three years, after which applicants may apply for further leave in-country. Migrants wishing to enter under Tier 2 will have to accrue sufficient points on the basis of qualifications, prospective salary, age, and the nature of the job they wish to take up. There will be an English language requirement and applicants will need to show that they have funds to support themselves on arrival in the UK.
• T5:TW is for temporary workers. There will be 5 sub-tiers, including one for “creative and sporting” applicants. Maximum leave under this sub-tier will be 12 months. Sponsors will have to vouch that migrants do not pose a threat to the resident labour market, in accordance with codes of practice which will be issued as part of the sponsorship rules. They may also vouch that migrants will not call on public funds during their time in the UK.
• The sponsor licence fee for a small organisation or a charity will be £300 for Tier 2, and £400 for Tier 5, or for both. For medium and large organisations it will be £1000.
• The proposed visa and certificate of sponsorship fees for Tier 2 (£205 and £170) and 5 (£99 and £10) are due to be approved in early summer. The proposed fees are listed at: http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/news/proposedfees.pdf
• The £10 certificate of sponsorship fee for Tier 5 can apply to an individual or to a group. In the case of a group application, each migrant will be issued with an individual certificate of sponsorship linked by a reference number identifying the group for payment purposes.
• The sponsorship register went live in early 2008 and Tier 5 is expected to open in late summer 2008.
• The Home Office’s Statements of Intent for Tiers 2 and 5 are available at http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/managingourborders/pbsdocs/
• The UK Borders Agency website provides information about the new system:
• The NCA has been working with the Home Office and the arts sector to address potential problems for the arts proposed by the new system. Information about this work is available on the NCA website at: http://www.artscampaign.org.uk/campaigns/nationalpolicy/Visas%202005%20Overview.html
The NCA cannot provide advice on immigration. NCA materials related to immigration are for information only and subject to change.
Article supplied (and reproduced with kind permission) by the National Campaign for the Arts © NCA 2008 National Campaign for the Arts