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New rules for EU artists and crew from 2021

"This will drag agents and promoters into the immigration system for the first time"

New rules have been announced for EU touring artists and crew post-Brexit, which will be put into play from 2021.

This includes the requirement for touring visas if the artist and crew are staying for over three months and certificates of sponsorship for staying under three months.

From 2021, EU citizens will be subject to the same restrictions on travel that non-EU citizens currently face. While this might mean that EU citizens just need to find their place in the UK immigration system like non-EU artists have, it could pose problems for last-minute shows or for moving back and forth between the EU and UK for over three months, such as for the festival period.

At the time being – and as it should be – EU artists and crews can move freely between the EU and the UK without work permits or visas. The new rules put a spanner in the works for artists touring in the UK, and could potentially write off the UK as a popular touring destination due to financial and time restraints.

EU artists and crew will have to apply for Tier 5 visas in order to be in the UK for longer than three months; in other words, freedom of movement is no longer. With Tier 5 visas, you can only apply three months before you are due to arrive, and the application can take up to three weeks to be accepted.

Industry organisations such as UK Music, ISM and Musician’s Union had hoped for a two-year working visa allowing EU artists to secure two years of restriction-free touring, but this has unfortunately not been set in motion.

Frankly, the new rules mean a lot more paperwork and hoop-jumping for artists and their agents. They also restrict EU musicians from being a part of the – extremely important – UK music community on a long-term basis.

Thankfully, EU citizens can apply for certificates of sponsorship if they have a UK sponsor, such as an agent or manager. This should cover multiple-entry visits and although the artist/crew member is required to show £945 in savings to apply, the sponsor can vouch to cover them financially to waiver this.

The Home Office is denying that new rules will impact EU musicians and told The New European: “They will continue to be able to enter the UK under the innovator route and will in due course be able to benefit from the proposed unsponsored route.

“The UK already attracts world-class artists, entertainers and musicians and we will continue to do so in the future.

“The UK’s existing rules permit artists, entertainers and musicians to perform at events and take part in competitions and auditions for up to six months. They can receive payment for appearances at certain festivals or for up to a month for a specific engagement, without the need for formal sponsorship or a work visa.”

Despite this, these new rules will most likely affect the EU’s treatment towards touring UK artists.

UK Music acting CEO Tom Kiehl commented on the dire situation: “New plans confirm that from 2021, EU musicians coming to the UK for concerts and festivals will be treated in the same way as those from the rest of the world.

“This will drag some agents and promoters into the immigration system for the first time and increases the possibility that member states introduce new bureaucratic hoops for UK musicians to jump through when seeking to perform across the EU.

“It’s welcome the government has reduced its salary cap. Yet these proposals will still not work for many in the EU who want to work in the UK music industry over a longer period of time, given musicians average earnings are £23,000 and the reliance under the points-based system on the need for elite academic qualifications.”

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