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Easier UK visa rules for visiting non-EU artists

Under new UK immigration visa rules non-EU artists may have an easier time obtaining visit visas for the UK. The new visa rules will allow for overseas artists to enter the UK to work without having to apply for work visas; They will be allowed to stay in the UK for up to a month if they have an official invitation from a UK organisation.

From 6 April 2012, the new system will introduce a permitted paid engagements entry route that allows non-EU artists one month leave to enter the UK without having to go through the points-based system. Additionally, the UK organisation hosting the artist will no longer need to apply to become a licensed sponsor and won't be required to keep the artist's contact details, copy of passport entry stamps and biometric details.

However, it is important to note, if the invitation is for a period longer than one month, the artist will be required to apply through the points-based system.

Paul Hobson, the director of the Contemporary Art Society, said the new visa scheme was "a move in the right direction" but says the government should look into loosening restrictions further as some artists might be invited to lecture at an art college for a whole term.

The change follows an open letter from 120 members of arts community that was sent to Home Secretary Theresa May in June 2011, claiming that the points-based system "gave the UK an incredibly bad reputation, particularly during the Olympics year."

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