Tier 1 is a route for entry to the UK intended for people of exceptional talent to live and work in the country. The Home Office has set a limit of up to 1,000 entrants through this route a year. Of these, 300 places have been reserved for artists and creative people working in film and television who have a proven high level international reputation.
By proven and high level, we mean currently engaged professionally as leaders in their field, demonstrating a substantial body of work at a high level and in more than one country. It is unlikely that a recent graduate or practitioner at the outset of their career will be able to demonstrate enough of an adequate track record to qualify.
We have published our criteria for assessing applications online, you can view it here.
Applicants for Tier 1 visas will be asked to complete a visa application and to submit up to 10 supporting documents that provide evidence of exceptional talent in their field. They will also be asked to provide two letters of endorsement from established arts/cultural organisations with a national or international reputation, one of which must be based in the UK.
Applications and supporting documents will then be assessed by artform experts at the Arts Council against published criteria. They will use this to decide if the application provides clear evidence that meets the criteria for a Tier 1 visa. They will then recommend to the UKBA whether the application merits a Tier 1 visa.
Applications from the film, television, animation, post production and special visual effects sectors will be assessed by PACT (Producers' Alliance for Film and Television) in accordance with the process and guidance that we will be publishing.
UKBA will remain the decision making body for the allocation of all visas, including Tier 1.
All applications will be assessed by one of the Arts Council's artform or sector specialists against the published criteria. This will ensure judgements are made by someone with expert knowledge of the relevant artform.
We envisage the turnaround time for applicants to the scheme will be around 6 weeks. This will give the Arts Council/PACT around 3 weeks to assess the application.
We have agreed a memorandum of understanding with PACT, setting out how we will work together on applications for entry under Tier 1 entry. The Arts Council will receive all applications in the first instance but will then refer all TV/film applications to PACT. This ensures all applications are assessed by a specialist in the relevant field.
This legislation is focused on internationally recognised artists although there is some scope to grant visas to those with evidenced potential to become leaders in their field. Please note that recent graduates or those at an early stage of their professional careers are unlikely to be able to demonstrate a sufficiently adequate track record to qualify. We look forward to working with the Home Office and others to ensure audiences in this country have access to the work of internationally recognised artists of all kinds.
Tier 1 is not the only way for artists to be granted visas, and artists can continue to apply for Tier 2 and Tier 5 visas.
What responsibility will you have for artists when they have entered the UK? Will you be awarding them Arts Council funding?
Artists will be required to support themselves when they have entered the UK, in accordance with UKBA regulations.
International artists are currently able to apply for funding through Grants for the Arts if the work will be of benefit to other English artists or audiences. Arts Council's recognition of individuals as "exceptionally talented" will not result in them receiving preferential treatment, although their stature may mean that English arts organisations may wish to work with them when they have entered the UK and the Arts Council will facilitate this.
Many artists currently enter the UK through Tier 5 visa's entertainer concession, which allows non-visa nationals to enter the country for up to three months by producing the appropriate certificate of sponsorship on arrival and non-visa nationals to obtain a visa at any post whilst on tour. Individuals can also enter for up to 12 months under Tier 5 or for longer periods through Tier 2 visas, which also includes entry for shortage occupations including ballet dancers and orchestral musicians.
We will only be making recommendations under Tier 1, which enhances the opportunities for artists to enter the UK in addition to the Tiers 2 and 5 which are currently in operation. We do not at present make recommendation about Tiers 2 and 5, which are currently assessed by UKBA using criteria that they have previously set out and operated through arts organisations acting as sponsoring bodies. UKBA will remain the decision making body for the allocation of all visas, including Tier 1.