UK: new visitor visas for sportspeople and entertainers

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The Home Office has announced two new visitor visas for sportspeople and entertainers, allowing people who fall under this category to visit the United Kingdom for up to six months.

The following people will be eligible for this visa:

  • sportspeople and support staff coming for specific events
  • professional entertainers taking part in music competitions
  • amateur entertainers coming to take part in a charity show or other event for which they receive no payment
  • professional and amateur entertainers taking part in permit-free festivals

UK Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe welcomed the announcement, stating that the UK needs to make sure that talented people can enter the UK and take part in the many festivals and shows that the country has to offer. This could be particularly important with the upcoming Olympic Games in 2012.

"Their presence makes our country a richer, more inspiring place to live and encourages more tourists to visit," Sutcliffe said. "We want next year to be a golden decade of sport, so it's good news that sportsmen and women competing in events here will keep the concessions that they previously enjoyed."

Tourism visas are also likely to see some changes. The UK currently brings in £85 billion each year from tourism. To encourage even more tourists to come to the UK, the government will set up a new shorter three-month group visa. The Home Office hinted that this visa will have a reduced price of £44.

The Home Office also announced its intention of keeping the maximum amount of time allowed in the UK for normal tourists at six months. The Home Office had hinted in previous months that it would shorted the maximum length of stay for normal tourists from six months to three, causing many objections.

The government also plans to introduce a visa that would allow people to come to the UK for big one-time sporting or cultural events, such as the Olympics.