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Visit visa options for artists and entertainers

If you are an artist or entertainer over the age of 18 coming to the UK for a visit or work, there are a number of immigration routes available to you. In this article we provide an overview of the two main visitor visa routes for artists and entertainers. In a subsequent article we will examine the three main routes under the Points Based System for artists and entertainers wishing to come and work in the UK.

Visitor Routes

There are two main visitor routes open to artists and entertainers depending on the type and length of activity to be undertaken:

  • Visitor undertaking Permitted Paid Engagement Visa;
  • Entertainer Visitor Visa

Employment is not permitted under the visitor routes, unless otherwise specified, therefore anyone who is seeking to work in the UK will need to consider applying under the Points Based System.

General Requirements

All visitors, whether applying for a Permitted Paid Engagement Visa or an Entertainer Visitor Visa, will need to demonstrate that they meet the following general requirements:

• are genuinely seeking entry as a visitor for the purposes stated;
• intend to leave the UK at the end of their visit;
• do not intend to undertake a course of study (unless explicitly permitted under the visitor route such as General/Business Visitors being able to study for 30 days.);
• do not intend to undertake a course of study (unless explicitly permitted under the visitor route such as General/Business Visitors study for 30 days);
• will maintain and accommodate themselves without using public funds or taking employment other than as permitted by the route;
• can meet the cost of the return or onward journey;
• do not intend to marry or form a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership;
• are not in transit to a country outside the common travel area.

Visitors Undertaking Permitted Paid Engagements

This route allows professionals to undertake specific engagements. It allows professional artists and entertainers (individuals and groups) who are invited to carry out one, or a short-series of permitted paid engagements relating to their profession to enter the UK for up to 1 month (single entry visit only).

It extends to the performing and creative arts and includes musicians, visual artists, writers, circus practitioners, film makers, dancers, choreographers and photographers as examples. It allows individuals to carry out an activity/activities in, or relating to, their profession – for example, giving performances, judging panels, giving lectures, book signings, exhibiting and selling their works.

Applicants for a Permitted Paid Engagement Visa must meet all the general requirements as listed above and provide evidence that demonstrates that:

  • the proposed activity relates to their full-time profession overseas and/or qualifications where appropriate; and
  • they have a formal invitation from a UK-based arts organisation or broadcaster, confirming details of the engagement.

Arts organisations can include organisations involved in artistic endeavours such as galleries, arts faculties/departments in universities and schools, and venues involved in producing or the staging of events.

Entertainer Visitors

This route is open to 3 main categories of entertainers:

– amateur entertainers (someone who engages in a creative activity solely for personal enjoyment and who is not intending to make a living from the activity) coming to attend or take part in specific engagements or public appearances;
– professional entertainers taking part in music competitions, charity concerts or shows where the organisers are not making a profit and the entertainer receives no fee;
– amateur or professional entertainers taking part in one or more cultural events on the list of Permit Free Festivals published by the Home Office.

Leave may be granted for up to 6 months but no paid or unpaid employment is permitted, apart from individuals taking part in a Permit Free Festival.

Amateur and professional entertainers are allowed to receive cash prizes as well as board, lodging and living expenses. Technical and support staff and those who are integral to the performance, such as conductors, choreographers and stage managers attending the same event as an artist or entertainer (including artists and entertainers entering under the permitted paid engagement visitor route) should apply under the entertainer visitor route. Leave will be granted in line with the artist or entertainer.

Entertainer Visitor Visa applicants must meet all the general requirements of this route and show that they are coming to the UK to do one of the specific activities as permitted under the Entertainer visitor route.

Evidence to demonstrate that the individual is coming as an Entertainer visitor might include, but is not limited to, a letter of invitation from a UK organisation or an event organiser confirming the entertainer's attendance and/or participation at the event and confirmation of what costs (if applicable) the UK organisation will meet and whether the entertainer will be paid or not.

Long-term entertainer visitor visas are also available for artists and entertainers who are regular visitors to the UK. They are valid for periods of 1, 2, 5 or 10 years and allow visits of up to 6 months at a time.

For advice or assistance with visit visa options for entertainers and artists, including applying for either a Permitted Paid Engagement Visa or an Entertainer Visitor Visa, contact our immigration barristers in Covent Garden, London on 0203 617 9173 or email


To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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