On 22 October 2020 the Government laid out 500 pages of new Immigration Rules, which will form the basis of our new Points Based Immigration System. Most of the changes will apply to non-EU nationals from 1 December 2020 and to EU citizens arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021. This article forms part of a series taken from our October edition of Employment and Immigration Law Update covering the latest changes to the rules. In this article the Immigration Team looks at the impact of the changes on the creative sector, with the overarching changes to the system covered here.
The creative sector has always enjoyed a number of interesting concessions within the Immigration rules and this is set to continue with the introduction of the new Immigration Rules in December this year.
The system remains focussed on an employer sponsoring a worker to come to the UK. Employers will still need a sponsor licence. Those already holding a sponsor licence, will seamlessly transfer to the new system. For those without a licence, the advice is to apply now while the criteria is well-known and established.
The Tier system is being renamed, so that we no longer have Tier 2 – we now have ‘Skilled workers’ and Tier 5 will be split into a number of different categories, including the ‘Creative Route’. This is however Tier 5 by any other name – allowing designated film crew to enter the UK for short term film projects up to 12 months in duration. The Codes of Practice for workers/performers in Film and Television still need to be followed; this essentially limits the visa to senior grades and unique talent. The Codes of Practice for performers or workers in Film and Television can now be found in Appendix T5, but largely appear to have carried over from their previous position in Appendix J of the Immigration Rules. Unlike in the Skilled worker route, there is no reduction in the skill level or seniority required to qualify as a sponsored Creative worker.
The key is that European workers will now need to be assigned Certificates of Sponsorship in this category, so licence holders should ensure there is a sufficient allocation on your licence to meet this additional demand.
The concession whereby those assigned a CoS for less than three months duration do not need to apply for visas if they are non-visa nationals will still apply, so it is expected that will cover European nationals as well as the usual US, Canadian and Australian nationals. Remember that anyone entering the UK with a CoS in these circumstances must NOT use E-gates. All nationalities which require a visa to visit the UK will still need to apply for visas prior to travel.
Visiting film crew
There is further good news – the concession for foreign film crew to film on location without requiring sponsorship remains in the new Immigration rules and has been extended. The visitor rules were previously framed to allow visitors to come to the UK to film on location for foreign films and programmes. That has now been extended to include ‘Other Media content’. This therefore gives greater security that commercials can be included in the remit of the rule. Care should nonetheless always be taken with this – it must be an overseas project, filmed entirely on location whereby a UK company is only facilitating the process. The general recommendation is to assign Certificates of Sponsorship is there is any doubt!
Permitted paid engagements are also staying – rarely used for film shoots, but sometimes appropriate for documentaries.
Other options for creative workers
For those looking to move permanently to the UK, but where a direct employment relationship required within the Skilled Worker category is not an option, there may be a possibility for high profile candidates to qualify for the Global Talent Visa. Brought in earlier this year and now confirmed in the new rules, the category is aimed at award winning individuals in the creative industries who will make a contribution to the UK. The visa requires an endorsement by the Producers’ Alliance for Film and Television (PACT) acting on behalf of Arts Council England. Further information is available here.
Written within the new guidance on the rules, the UKVI has confirmed “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”. It could be interesting times ahead!
This article is from the October 2020 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For more details regarding any of the matters covered in this update, please contact Janice Leggett in our Immigration Team.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at October 2020.