MP urges action from Home Office to support international tours and overseas artists

Alex Sobel MP wants recent changes to Certificate of Sponsorship arrangements reversed

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23/10/18: Alex Sobel MP has today delivered a letter to the Minister of State for Immigration, Caroline Nokes MP, calling on her to reverse recent Home Office changes to Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) arrangements for visiting entertainers from the USA, Canada and South America.

Alex Sobel, MP for Leeds North West, speaking in the House of Commons

The letter, which you can read here, has attracted signatures from 50 MPs and Peers — including the Shadow Home Secretary — as well as from an assortment of influential industry associations, including UK Music, the Association for Festival Organisers and the Music Venue Trust.

In August 2017, the United Kingdom and Visa and Immigration Service (UKVI) altered guidance to the effect that visiting entertainers from the US and Canada would now require UK visas if arriving via the Irish Republic.

UK music lobby groups and associations allege that these changes were not properly advertised and that no consultation was held with the relevant stakeholders. The new requirements impose significant costs on entertainers visiting the UK. For many years, the Irish Republic has been a convenient first port of call for entertainers beginning their Europe-wide tour. There is a real risk that the UK’s new visa requirements will force acts to cancel the Irish—or British—leg of their trip.

The signatories to the letter call on the Home Office to revert to the tried and tested Certificate of Sponsorship system to prevent further damage to the UK’s position as a leading cultural centre in Europe.

Alex Sobel MP said: “The Home Office needs to apply some common sense to this issue and reinstate the old system for visiting entertainers. This is bureaucratic box-ticking of the worst sort.

“The danger is performers arriving from the US and Canada are likely to organise shorter European Tours – or not at all – due to the additional costs and bureaucracy.

“At a time when we’re told the UK ought to be more outward looking and business focussed the Home Office has chosen to impose a silly short-sighted policy on one of Britain’s most productive industries.”

UK Music Deputy CEO and Director of Public Affairs Tom Kiehl said: “The UK music industry is worth £4.4 billion to the economy and accounts for 3 of the 4 most popular arenas in the world, attracting global talent like Beyonce, Jay-Z, Taylor Swift and Eminem.

“UK Visa and Immigration are now jeopardising this success by issuing advice that contradicts long established practice in the entertainment sector. The Government must look again to ensure the UK can maintain its position as a world leading destination for international tours.”

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