Artists and academics regularly refused UK visa, say petitioners

The petition is signed by leading members of the arts community, including sculptor Antony Gormley, the director of the National theatre, Nicholas Hytner, the lawyer Lady Kennedy and the poet Blake Morrison, as well as 10,000 others. It will be presented to the prime minister’s office today.

Accompanying the petition is a dossier of cases where artists, authors and academics from overseas were refused permission to enter the UK under the government's points-based visa system, including Chinese artist Huang Xu, who was refused a UK visa to attend the opening of his exhibition at the October gallery in London. Other cases include South African illustrator, Nikhil Singh, who was unable to attend his own book launch.

"This is an account of talent stopped at our borders, which has left the country all the poorer," the petition says.

UK Border Agency official Jeremy Oppenheim said: "We welcome the contribution of creative artists, but it's important everyone plays by the rules."

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people lodge UK immigration applications with the British Embassy.