So you want to tour the UK , ok but well, but then, but well but ! A sorry tale of rejection at the UK border
Ian here from Carry On Touring .. as some may have seen the Guardian articles with Helen Pidd or heard the interview I did with Mariella Frostrup, here is the real deal and why we need solutions NOW for everyone in both directions. If in Europe you might have caught me on Deutsch Welle Berlin today ( 13th April 2023 ) or FM4 in Austria ( Radio 1 equivalent ) because this is gaining traction everywhere as it should.
After to speaking with Ralph Schaarschmidt and the guys from TRIGGER CUT after their nightmare trying to come into the UK for a short tour ... On listening to the these lovely chaps this is what I heard. ( NB I wasn't there but have no reason to disbelieve anything I was told , and I also didn't lead the questioning at all, this came totally from them so no bias )
Sorry its a bit long .. please look at the video and it may make this more understandable.
They had with them letters of invitation which I saw and overall were ok, complete with each persons name and passport numbers. The letters did not mention the PPE route, but otherwise they were ok.
On presenting the letters and passports the officer/s at Calais ( which was exactly what they needed to do as they would need PPE stamps in their passports, ) he told them 1/ this was not enough ( incorrect if band members fulfilled criteria, you can enter on just letter of invitation, but can be asked supplementary questions by border officials to check you fulfil criteria on this route ( PPE), and 2/ that they needed COS ( certificates of sponsorship ) from each venue and that they should immediately contact each venue and ask them that they Issue the COS there and then, this can happen but is not usual for COS as its usually either one sponsor for the duration of the visit from one or two days up to a maximum of 90 days if there are enough shows and no more than 14 days between any show whilst actually in the UK, or any other licensed agent or agency, if each venue is licensed they could have done this separately.
During a conversation with the band where the band innocently tried to solve the problem, the guys mentioned in passing they had other jobs as well, this may have given grounds for refusal ( I do not know this for a fact, but could be a reason for refusal under one interpretation of the rules ) as one of the criteria is as follows ( note last point)
If you do not need a visa, you must get a stamp in your passport from a Border Force officer when you enter the UK. You cannot use the ePassport gates.
The Border Force officer will check that:
you meet the eligibility requirements:
you have an invitation from a relevant UK-based organisation or client
the paid engagement relates to your expertise, qualifications and main job
End quote : .
So It appears that in the confusion of the moment and possible confusion by the officer about PPE entry that under further questioning this might be the reason for the refusal.
Also when trying to enter ALWAYS say clearly I wish to enter via the PPE concession for non visa nationals. Visa nationals simply apply for this formally online at a cost of £100.
PPE has worked for years and does work but as Ive said many times it carries a degree of risk of refusal as it clearly states at the outset:
QUOTE from UK govt page on PPE
"You may be able to visit the UK for a paid engagement if you’ve been invited as an expert in your profession by a UK-based organisation or client.
What you can and cannot do:
You can be invited and paid by a UK-based organisation or client:
as a professional artist, entertainer or musician"
Please make sure if you are using this route you understand that although it is free, then you must have all your documents clearly in order. And be prepared to argue your case if challenged with a print off from the UK govt website and supporting documents regarding your eligibility. If admitted on this route its for up to 30 days max on any one visit.
For the COS route which is always safer ( from 1 day to 90 days max if you have sufficient work ), ask the venues you are speaking with if they are licensed or know someone that is and who will offer that service at a reasonable cost.
As a licensed sponsor myself of many years I know fees range for the service from not too much to crazy amounts so ask around .. check the crew groups ..
As is stated in the article the interpretation of "main job" could have led to the refusal .. and its only on the PPE route that this is mentioned.
One thing that needs context is that what I have said but missed in the article is that the Certificate of Sponsorship is the other option which is not free. So strictly speaking the guard was
correct in that this was another option to get into the UK for work, in this case creative work.
My point remains though, even if using this criteria as refusal, what defines "main job" is it the amount of time spent on that job ( including rehearsals / recording / practice and live shows ) or the amount of money received. Also definition of professional for me is whether or not someone is being paid .. arguments abound no doubt .. but my points I think are fair.
I'm continuing to help TriggerCut to navigate this and hope you all work well safely and are successful in your touring .. its still possible in both directions but more hoops to jump though since Brexit sadly ...