'Uncertainty hangs over thousands of musicians’ – the ISM responds to latest government guidance on the return of live performance
'The government must not miss the opportunity to create an immigration system that supports industries like music' – Incorporated Society of Musicians Chief Executive Deborah Annetts, responding to the government’s post-Brexit immigration plan, said:
‘We welcome the government’s commitment to working with the creative sector to simplify the offer for creatives coming to the UK on short-term trips, but we are concerned that the recommendations for a new immigration system contained in our report, “How Open is the U.K. for the Music Business”, have so far gone unheeded and time is running out.
‘The music sector contributes so much to our country, but to truly flourish it needs an immigration system that supports musical and cultural exchange through touring.
‘Our research highlights that the current short-term immigration system used by non-EU musicians is littered with problems. It can be costly, unnecessarily complicated and can often result in unfair refusals, causing significant personal distress, the last-minute cancellation of performances, and considerable financial losses for the sector as a whole. It is not a suitable basis for a new migration system.
‘If the government goes down this route, it will miss an opportunity to sort out the immigration system to support critical industries like music. This means there will be little incentive for European countries to put in place a system that advantages UK musicians, many of whom rely on income from European tours’.
Notes to Editors
- It is worth noting that beyond the main work and study route, most of the immigration routes will have the same requirements as they do now for non-EU citizens. EU citizens will need to get a visa for all activities other than short-term visits’ (Pg.7).
- ‘We will continue to work with the creative sector to reform and simplify the offer for creatives coming to the UK on short-term trips’.
- Priti Patel sets out post-Brexit immigration plan - including health and care visa.’ (13 July, 2020).
- ‘How Open is the UK for the Music Business?’ (April 2020). The ISM has made 11 recommendations to government for a post-Brexit immigration system.
- Recommendation 1: The UK should not apply the current visa system for short-term work and visits to EU nationals.
- Recommendation 2: The 3-month concession for non-visa nationals using the Tier 5 Temporary Worker – Creative or Sporting route should be extended to 6 months. The Tier 5 route should allow for multiple entries to the UK.
- Recommendation 3: The Permitted Paid Engagement route should be extended from 30 days to 90 days to allow for longer tours and opera seasons. The PPE route should allow for multiple entries to the UK.
- Recommendation 4: The Visitor Rules should be simplified so that applicants can easily understand which routes are available to them, and which documents are required for each route.
- Recommendation 5: UKVI should reduce the time it takes to assess and issue a visa to allow for visa nationals to work in the UK at short notice. UKVI should create an ‘emergency’ or very short-term visa that could be procured for last-minute employment.
- Recommendation 6: UKVI should make it possible for applicants for Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) to pay the direct fee of £21 rather than higher charges made by third party companies.
- Recommendation 7: The UK should provide more visa application centres (VACs) or consulates in areas where applicants have to travel extensively to access one, e.g. in Africa.
- Recommendation 8: UKVI should introduce a mechanism for applicants who have previously secured several successful applications to make it easier for them to continue visiting the UK without having to start their applications from scratch each time.
- Recommendation 9: UKVI and Border Force should provide clearer guidance, both in documentation and at the UK border itself, regarding requirements for stamps for Certificates of Sponsorship and visas, so thatmusicians are not ushered through e-gates in error.
- Recommendation 10: UKVI, embassies and VACs should be more accessible to applicants and sponsors who have queries. The UKVI telephone hotline should be made cheaper and the wait time for an operator should be reduced.
- Recommendation 11: The UK should set up a national mobility information point by an NGO or arms-length body to offer clear information to applicants.
- In May the ISM also released a report on the impact of Brexit, which highlights the dual threat faced by the music industry from Brexit and COVID-19.
About the ISM
The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) is the UK's professional body for musicians and a nationally-recognised subject association for music. Since 1882, we have been dedicated to promoting the importance of music and protecting the rights of those working in the music profession.
We support approximately 10,000 musicians across the UK and Ireland with our unrivalled legal advice and representation, comprehensive insurance and specialist services. Our members come from all areas of the music profession and from a wide variety of genres and musical backgrounds.
We campaign tirelessly in support of musicians’ rights, music education and the profession as a whole. We are a financially independent not-for-profit organisation with no political affiliation. This independence allows us the freedom to campaign on any issue affecting musicians.For more information, please contact [email protected].