Let me entertain you (provided I can get across the border)

13 October 2020

Once the pandemic blows over, hopefully soon in 2021 the entertainment sector will bounce back into action, with concerts, performances and other events once again a part of our lives. Whilst it may at present be far from the minds of companies in the entertainment and creative sectors, post 31 December 2020, entertainers and artists who are EEA nationals and who have long-benefited from freedom of movement to the UK, may need to consider immigration issues that have to date been reserved for non-EEA nationals.  EEA nationals who are or have been resident in the UK before 31 December 2020 should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme before the deadline of 30 June 2021.  The EU Settlement Scheme provides a route for EEA nationals to continue to reside and work in the UK without having to apply for a visa under the UK’s new immigration system.

The government’s plans for the entertainment and creative sectors have been light on detail, but with the terms of the new immigration system slowly being expanded on, the potential implications of the end of the transitional period following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU are a bit clearer.

Tier 5 together with the permitted paid engagement visitor route have been the well-trodden paths for non-EEA nationals to enter the UK to take part in creative and sporting events.

It appears that the permitted paid engagement visitor route will continue, and may well become the most common route for entertainers, artists and sportspersons coming to the UK from the EEA after 31 December.

As part of the government’s substantial changes to the immigration system, the Tier 5 route is to be replaced by a number of categories, including the ‘Creative route’. Some of the proposed changes appear to be encouraging but any gains could well be offset by the increased administrative burden of having to resolve immigration issues for EEA nationals. The government has stated that it will “continue to work with the creative sector to reform and simplify the offer for creatives coming to the UK on short-term trips”, and we hope to see improvements to support the ease of entry to the UK.

As many Tier 5 sponsors will be aware, there are a number of inflexibilities in the current system that can cause administrative difficulties - such as having to issue multiple Certificates of Sponsorship for non-visa nationals who do not apply for entry clearance, and the limit on the time that an individual can enter without applying for a visa. It is these kinds of issues that the UK government will need to consider.

The upcoming changes will require that entertainment, creative and sporting organisations pause to consider potential immigration issues before organising an event with EEA nationals after 31 December – after a period of economic uncertainty, further obstacles will be the last thing the sector will need.

Further Information

If you wish to discuss any issues raised above or any other immigration matter, please do not hesitate to contact our immigration team.


About the author

Robert has extensive experience of assisting individuals wishing to relocate to the UK with their immigration and nationality matters. His experience covers all kinds of immigration and nationality applications but with a particular emphasis on corporate immigration matters, helping high net worth individuals and partners of British citizens or those with indefinite leave to remain.


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