The United Kingdom has released details on two new visitor visas for people such as athletes and entertainers making a trip to Britain to take part in events related to their occupation. The new visas come at a time when the UK is making the biggest changes to its immigration system in decades.
The new visas are a continuation of an "historical concession" which allows sportspeople and entertainers to enter the UK for a short time without a work permit to take part in certain events.
Under the new visa routes, the following people will be able to enter the UK:
- sportspeople and support staff coming for specific events (e.g. Wimbledon)
- amateur sportspeople joining UK amateur teams for up to six months
- professional entertainers coming to the United Kingdom to take part in music competitions
- amateur entertainers traveling to the United Kingdom for a specific event
- professional entertainers coming to take part in a charity show or where they will receive no payment
- professional and amateur entertainers taking part in a "permit-free festival" such as the Edinburgh Festival
According to the UK Border Agency, the new visas will sit alongside the new five-tier points based system which covers more long-term employment-based immigration.
The points system, modeled on Australia's skilled immigration policies, covers highly skilled migrants, temporary workers and Working Holiday makers. The first tier covering highly skilled migration to the UK is the only part of the points based system currently in operation.
The UK will shortly introduce Tier 2 for skilled workers sponsored by UK employers and Tier 5 for temporary workers and Working Holiday Makers, also known as Youth Mobility Workers. Under Tier 2, more long term and elite sportspeople will have their own points based system.
Already, thousands of people are taking advantage of the UK's new highly skilled migration route. Other nations, such as the United States and Canada, have been criticized for not taking advantage of top talent from around the world and letting their employment-based immigration policies languish.
The UK government talks tough on protecting its borders. However, many people expect skilled immigration to the UK to increase.