08 April 2009

New UK visa rules deterring international artists

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The new UK visa rules are apparently becoming a barrier for international artists to work in the UK, reports The Stage.

The new UK visa rules mean that all employers wanting to hire a temporary worker under the Tier 2 category for immigration for skilled workers need to advertise that position for two weeks in Jobcentre Plus and another approved advertising medium. 

It is claimed that the new UK visa laws will cause British producers to waste time and money sorting through irrelevant applications for artistic positions. 

"You can imagine organisations having to plough through rubbish applications - it will impact on time and cost," said Tracy Evlogidis, head of immigration at law firm Speechly Bircham.

"You can see that a job like Kevin Spacey’s [Old Vic artistic director] would be so inappropriate to advertise at Jobcentre Plus."

Artists without a specific job offer wanting to work in the UK would need to apply through the Tier 1 category, yet this now requires them to have at least a Masters' degree and a job paying at least £20,000, which for an artist, would prove difficult.

Evlogidis warns that such tough restrictions would impact on international productions being performed in the UK, whereby performers would struggle to obtain their UK work permit for long-running performances.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said it is only fair that performers and artists play by the same rules as other British migrant-hopefuls.

"We welcome the contribution of performers, but it is important that everyone who comes to this country plays by the same rules. Creative artists have a special category under Tier 5 by which they can come to the UK for an initial time of up to 12 months, which can in certain circumstances be extended to a total time of 24 months. They can also enter under Tier 2 general for longer periods.

"We have worked closely with the sector in setting out creative codes of practice which recognise that, in specific circumstances, advertising [at Jobcentre Plus] may not be appropriate."


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