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UK Artist Visa for Creatives and How to Apply

The UK Artist visa (also known as the UK Global Talent visa scheme) enables leaders and potential leaders in a range of artistic and creative fields to work in the UK, be self-employed, or become a director of a company. Before applying, UK Artist visa applicants must first be endorsed by an approved endorsing body based in the UK.

The UK Artist visa is specifically for endorsed leaders and potential leaders in the areas of:

  • architecture
  • combined arts, dance, literature, music, theatre or visual arts
  • fashion design
  • film and television, including animation, post-production and visual effects

Note: as immigration lawyers, we cannot help you to apply for endorsement. Once you get the endorsement, we can help you with your UK Artist visa / Global Talent visa application.

UK Artist visa holders can remain in the UK for up to 5 years, at which point they can choose to renew their leave to remain or apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR) to settle permanently in the UK.

One of the main reasons that applicants choose the UK Artist visa is the potential for accelerated settlement; those who are endorsed as a leader in their artistic or creative field can apply for ILR after just 3 years (compared to the normal 5 years).

In addition to the UK Artist visa (Global Talent visa), overseas artists who wish to work in the UK can also consider applying under the following visa routes:

This list is by no means exhaustive; there is also a wide range of UK work visas and permits available to artists and those in creative professions .

UK Artist visa

The UK Artist visa eligibility criteria will differ depending on your artistic field (as outlined above). However, most applicants must have worked regularly in their discipline for at least the last 5 years, and all must have endorsement from Arts Council England, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the British Fashion Council, or the Producers’ Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT).

Under the Global Talent visa, there are other endorsing bodies for other talent routes, including the Tech Nation visa.

Here are some of the key criteria for the UK artist visa under each qualifying artist field.

Combined arts, dance, literature, music, theatre or visual arts

Applicants in the field of combined arts, dance, literature, music, theatre or visual arts must be able to show:

  • They have published or performed work internationally that Arts Council England judges to be “outstanding”
  • They have a “substantial” record of work in at least 2 countries if applying as a leader (one country being where you live)
  • They have a “developing” record of work in at least 2 countries if applying as a potential leader (one country being where you live)
  • That people have engaged with their work in those countries (e.g., through appearances, performances, publications, or exhibitions)

Architecture

Applicants applying for the UK Artist visa in the field of architecture must be able to show:

  • They have published or performed work internationally that RIBA judges to be “outstanding”
  • They have produced work that is well known in at least 2 countries if applying as a leader (one country being where you live)
  • Evidence of at least two of the following: international media recognition, international awards, or international publication or exhibitions

Fashion Design

If applying as a leader, applicants in the field of fashion design must be able to show they produce work that:

  • is sold or exhibited internationally on catwalk exhibitions
  • the British Fashion Council considers ‘outstanding’
  • is well-known in 2 or more countries

Potential leaders must be able to show they produce work that:

  • is internationally sold or exhibited
  • recognised by leading figures in fashion

Film and television

UK Artist visa applicants in the field of film and television must be able to show:

  • they have been endorsed by PACT in film, television, animation, post-production, or visual effects
  • evidence of an Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe, Emmy, or industry recognition

How to apply for a UK Artist visa

To apply for a UK Artist visa, applicants must:

  1. Gain endorsement from Arts Council England, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the British Fashion Council, or the Producers’ Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) – a fee of £456 is payable when you apply for endorsement.
  2. Prepare and submit an online application for a Global Talent visa1.
  3. Pay the application fee of £167 and the healthcare surcharge (£624 per person per year).
  4. Book and attend a biometric appointment at a visa application centre (VAC).
  5. Upload any documents required by the Home Office.

Most UK Artist visa applications made outside the UK are processed within 3 weeks (or 8 weeks if submitted inside the UK).

Paid Permitted Engagement visa

The Paid Permitted Engagement visa allows those who have been invited as an expert in their profession by a UK-based organisation or client to work in the UK. The Paid Permitted Engagement visa is particularly suitable for professional artists, entertainers or musicians who plan to work in the UK for up to 1 month. Applicants must:

  • Have been invited by an organisation in the UK to attend a pre-arranged event or another permitted engagement which relates to their field
  • Be 18 or over
  • Intend to leave the UK by the end of the 1-month permission granted
  • Have enough funds to support themselves
  • Be able to pay for their onward journey

Temporary Creative Worker visa

The Temporary Creative Worker visa allows those who work in the creative sector to work in the UK for up to 12 months. To qualify as a creative worker, applicants must:

  • Make a unique contribution to the UK labour market
  • Have a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK employer with a sponsor licence
  • Receive at least the minimum salary set by Equity, PACT or BECTU (this does not apply to models, musicians and circuses)
  • Have at least £1,270 to support themselves in the UK

Once in the UK, it is possible to switch from a Temporary Creative Worker visa to a Skilled Worker visa, allowing holders to stay for up to 5 years and later qualify for ILR.

The Temporary Creative Worker visa is ideal for those who wish to work in the creative sector for between 3 and 12 months. If you plan to come for 3 months or less, you may be able to benefit from the Creative Worker visa concession meaning that you may not need to apply for a visa before you come to the UK if you meet certain criteria.

Youth Mobility Scheme visa

The Youth Mobility Scheme visa is another immigration option for those from an eligible country or with certain types of British citizenship. To make a successful Youth Mobility Scheme visa application, applicants must:

  • be aged between 18 and 30
  • have at least £2,530 in savings
  • be from Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Iceland, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, or Taiwan – or be a British overseas citizen or British national (overseas).

Youth Mobility Scheme visa holders can come to the UK for up to 24 months to live, travel, work, or study. Although a Youth Mobility visa extension is not possible, you can switch to another visa while you're in the UK.

References

1 GOV.UK: Online visa application

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