On the 18th of October 2022, the Home Office published a Statement of Changes. This statement set out amendments to several immigration categories which primarily took effect on 9th November 2022. This blog looks at the amendments that will impact the creative sector specifically.
Countries removed from the visa national list
Visa nationals are those nationals who need a visa for every entry to the UK. If you are a visa national and you want to visit the UK, you will need to apply for a UK Visitor visa in advance of your travels to the UK. This contrasts with non-visa nationals who can enter the UK without a visa in advance, for some purposes, primarily for visits.
From the 9th of November 2022, citizens of Colombia, Guyana and Peru have been removed from the visa national list. This means that they will no longer need to obtain a visit visa before travelling to the UK for visitor purposes (e.g. tourism or business visits) and can instead be granted entry on arrival at the UK border. Also noteworthy is the fact that their new non-visa national status will allow them to take advantage of the concession available to certain Creative Workers (details below).
Creative Worker visa concession / Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) concession
As a consequence of the visa national list changing, the Creative Worker visa concession (aka CoS concession) will in turn now also cover nationals from Guyana, Peru and Colombia.
The Creative Worker visa concession enables certain non-visa nationals to enter the UK to work for less than 3 months, relying on the Creative Worker CoS issued by their UK sponsor, without applying for a visa in advance.
To be eligible for the Creative Worker visa concession, non-visa nationals need to have a valid Temporary Work - Creative Worker CoS, and be coming to work in the UK for 3 months or less. This means that Creative Workers completing short roles/contracts in the UK can do so without the logistical efforts and financial burden of making a visa application in advance. Their eligibility will instead be assessed at the UK border on entry. It’s important to note that they still need to meet the other requirements of the route, including having sufficient funds to support themselves or maintenance certified by their sponsor.
Priority service returns
There is good news for visa nationals, i.e. those people who require a visa in advance of travel to the UK for any purpose (and who cannot use the visa concession highlighted above). Priority services have returned in many places, and we’ve seen reliable turnaround times. This means that an applicant using the priority service should receive a decision within 5 working days after attending their biometric appointment (if required) or after submission (for EU nationals not requiring a biometric appointment).
Changes to the Sponsor a Creative Worker guidance
There has also been changes to the 'Sponsor a Creative Worker' guidance. From the 9th of November 2022, a sponsor must now ensure any worker sponsored on this route will be paid in accordance with UK national minimum wage legislation. If the worker is exempt from being paid National Minimum Wage, the sponsor must provide an explanation when it assigns the CoS (either in the allowances box or by way of a sponsor note after the CoS has been assigned).
Changes to switching rules from visitor/PPE to creative worker
A rarely used provision in the Rules has been removed as of 9th November 2022. It has previously been possible to switch, in limited circumstances, from permission as a Visitor carrying out creative activities into the Temporary Work - Creative Worker category.
This niche provision is being removed. Any affected applicants will instead need to leave the UK and apply for Skilled Worker permission or else re-enter the UK using the visa concession if eligible.
Change to Appendix Creative Worker Codes of Practice
The codes of practice for performers in theatre or opera has now been separated into two sections: performers in opera and performers in theatre. This should provide more clarity on the requirements for these performers.
With this update, the appropriate salary amount for performers in opera has changed so that payment should meet UK Theatre rates rather than the previous reference to the Equity industry standards. The separation of performers in theatre and performers in opera also reflects their differing reliance on overseas talent.