New UK Visitor legislation

Item Posted: Thursday 21st February, 2008

Whether you have family abroad or are interested in the future of the Arts new guidelines might well be put in place which may increase the bureaucracy, effort and cost of allowing people to visit the UK.

A government document – on which individuals and organisations can comment – is available at
http://www.bia.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/newsarticles/proposalstostrengthenvisitorvisa

(See in particular Chapter 3.23)

LFW, and many other voluntary Arts organisations, are only able to access musicians from abroad on the back of the work put in by agents or major festivals (such as Celtic Connections, Edinburgh Fringe and the Harp Festival) in helping arrange work permits. Some examples of top quality musicians which have visited us include Bruce Molsky, The Crooked Road Tour, Ferintosh and Jamie Laval. Any chance of process, especially if work permits are in any way made more difficult to obtain, will have a substantially negative impact on our cultural life, and lessen our ability to display the wealth of talent and styles of traditional music from around the world.

We have received this note about the plans which is well worth a read! Although it refers specifically to the Fringe it seems to us that any new proposals will have an impact across the board


UK Visitor Visa Legislation - New Proposals

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe sent this stuff out recently and I'm
passing it along.

Once you've had a look at the content in the link below, you may feel
this message to be important enough to pass on to other folk to allow
them to contribute - which is why I've forwarded it to you in the
first place of course.

It's a big read, but it is a very important read. The results from
the consultation document in the link below will form part of the
information base guiding the UK government in its decisions about how
to 'handle' ALL visitors to the UK (business, artistes, sports-people,
your own family if any live abroad - anyone).

In this regard I'm sending the message also to folk ex-UK whose entry
into the UK could be affected by this. You folk too could contribute
to this consultation.

Here in Edinburgh, and elsewhere, there is concern about the
redesigning of the current UK visas and work-permits 'regime' by the
government. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is currently a work-permit
free festival, and it's not unique in that. What is different from
many other such events is that the performers who appear at the Fringe
do not get paid by the festival itself; ie. the Fringe is not a
'promoting' festival in the usual way, the performers generally come
here under their own financial steam. Current proposals appear to be
putting that status under threat in which case the world's largest
arts event would almost certainly change very significantly - and not
for the better either. If you do look at the document in the link go
to paragraph 3.23 where it says ...

>From another perspective, some organisations
have commented that such festivals are
qualitatively different in offering a unique
opportunity to the performers, in that they are
not employed directly by the festival organisers
but are in effect, showcasing their portfolio to
potential employers. Such performers do not
receive payment from the festival organisers,
and therefore, it is suggested, could be brought
within the definition of business visitors.

This is the argument being put forward by the Edinburgh Festival
Fringe to avoid becoming a 'regular' festival needing work-permits for
performers from outside the UK. The issuing of work-permits requires
a fee to be paid and that could be the nail that really secures the
coffin lid because the quite real fear is that many of the Fringe's
participants from abroad will simply be unable to afford the necessary
fees on top of all the other expense of coming to Edinburgh.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is such a major cultural event in the
artistic life of the UK that charging for the issuing of work-permits,
if it dissuades performers from coming here, could have big knock-on
effects on the arts and cultural activities in general around the UK.

Now that's just one quite particular possibility but, on top of all
that do also be aware that the proposals currently being looked at in
this new order will affect ALL travellers into the UK without (I
think) exception - for example, if you have family living abroad who
come to visit you here you may find it more difficult to organise such
visits. It may turn out eventually that you have to put up a
financial surety for such visits!

So, the visitor consultation paper (see the link) as published by the
UK Home Office Border and Immigration Agency seeks the public's views
on proposals which include:

* people putting up a financial deposit to ensure any foreign national
family members return home following their visit from overseas;
* reducing the length of time a tourist can stay in the UK from six to
three months;
* creating a specific business and specialist visa; and
* creating a specific visa for one-off events such as the Olympics.

Please do take the time to read this document and send in a response
from your organisation and personally too if you can. Feel free to
distribute to other concerned parties where relevant. The due date for
responses to this consultation is Monday 10 March 2008.


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