The UK government’s decision to scrap “perverse” changes to rules on touring musicians entering the country via Dublin is “very welcome”, music industry figures have said.
The Irish World reported late last year how thousands of entertainers arriving from non-EU states into the UK via Ireland were being forced to fork out thousands of extra pounds on diverting their flights due to Home Office changes ahead of Brexit.
For several years, performers from countries such as Brazil and the US have been able to use a so-called “certificate of sponsorship” from a promoter or booking agent to enter the UK – a concession which was created in recognition of the requirements of the creative sector.
An online “remote clearance” option – where artists can electronically activate a certificate of sponsorship before they enter the UK from the Republic, without the need to obtain a UK entry visa – has now been unveiled after trials so that tours can sidestep visa regulations.
Many musicians, for financial, geographical and cultural reasons, tend to travel to the UK only after first playing venues in Ireland.
The Home Office changed the rules early last year, later denying any fundamental differences despite industry opposition. Industry representatives appealed to the Home Office to rectify “perverse” visa restrictions between Ireland and the UK for travelling tours.
Free to use, the new system, announced last week, means that eligible individuals in sporting and creative industries will be able to work in the UK for up to three months, avoiding the need to secure visas.
Steve Richard, an immigration specialist for the entertainment industry involved in the system’s roll-out, told the Irish World that after a year’s work along with other industry lobbyists, he is glad that the Home Office “saw sense” over their initial refusal to see the problem.
“It means acts flying to the UK via Ireland are no longer forced to jump through costly and lengthy bureaucratic hoops,” he said, adding that tours that are routed through Ireland will no longer have a “detrimental impact” on their UK work rights.
Trial runs of the new scheme took place over the past month which “worked very well”, Richards added.
Caroline Nokes, the Minister for Immigration, said that the UK’s creative industries are “world leading” and that the country hosts “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,” she said.
Michael Dugher, the CEO of the music industry’s umbrella group UK Music, added: “The live music industry, which contributes around £1 billion to the economy, will put this [solution] 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.”