February 2020 - Immigration and EU Exit

There’s a lot of talk about the loss of freedom of movement and a new immigration regime at the moment. Much of it is still uncertain and the key thing to note at the present time is that we are now in a transition period until the end of 2020 and current rules on trade, travel, and business for the UK and EU continue to apply until 1 January 2021.

This means that Freedom of Movement continues to apply. For the rest of this year EEA (EU countries plus Norway, Lichenstein and Iceland) and Swiss citizens can continue to work without restriction in the UK.

Workers from other countries can continue to be brought in under the current immigration rules:

  • ITC members most frequently use the Tier 5: Temporary Worker - Creative and Sporting visa. A Tier 5 visa lasts for up to 12 months and can be renewed once for a further twelve months. You need to have a certificate of sponsorship from a licensed employer before you can apply to come to the UK to work. The work you do in the UK must relate to the work of your sponsor organisation. Fees are £244 per applicant (and the same for dependents) and there is also a healthcare surcharge to pay as part of the application
  • The Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - Creative and Sporting) concession can be used if you intend to work in the UK for 3 months or less, you may be able to use the instead of applying for the visa.
  • For visits of one month or less the Permitted paid engagement visas category is open to arts and entertainment professionals and does not require a certificate of sponsorship to be issued. An artist may enter to give a paid performance and also present their work to other professionals or the public.
  • Tier 2 is for “skilled” workers and allows for stays of up to 5 years(extendable to 6 years). There is a salary threshold of £30k at present, however, for dancers (a “shortage occupation”) the salary must be at least “industry standard” level.
  • Global Talent Visa: This route (previously called the Exceptional Talent Visa) is for those who have been endorsed as a recognised leader or as an emerging leader in a qualifying field. The arts are a qualifying field and applications for this visa are not subject to points based assessment but must be endorsed by Arts Council England. It is mostly used for very senior posts in the sector. A key change is that a cap on the number of endorsements the Arts Council can give to Applicants has been removed, which may encourage more applications.

What changes to the immigration routes are proposed from 1 January 2021?
Tier 5: The route for “lower-skilled” workers is to be severely cut back, in the hope of freeing up these jobs for UK citizens. For our sector, however, the current intention is that the Creative & Sporting/Permitted Paid Engagement routes will be retained.
Tier 2: It is proposed to reduce some of the thresholds in this category, including salary levels and English language skills, which may make it easier for ITC members to bring in workers under Tier 2, it is likely that the main use in this industry will continue to be for dancers, so long as they remain a “shortage occupation”.

What will this mean for ITC members?
The latest proposals for changes to the immigration rules should leave our sector able to bring in more workers than many other industries but from 1 January 2021 there will be cost and administration implications arising from the fact the EEA/Switzerland nationals will fall under the immigration regime rather than freedom of movement.

  • Companies wishing to bring in EEA/Swiss nationals for long or short term contracts will need to register as sponsors if they have not already done so. The process takes around 8 weeks and currently costs £536 for small/charitable businesses. Specific roles in the sponsorship process need to be designated to specific staff.
  • There will be visa costs in many cases.

And there’s more….

  • EU Settled Status EU citizens and their families who were living in the UK at 31 October 2019 are still eligible to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, to ensure that they can stay here. They have until 31 December 2020 to apply. EU citizens already living in the UK, who have not yet registered with the Settlement Scheme and who are abroad when free movement ends will still be eligible for the settlement scheme and the Home Office states “No one eligible for status will be barred from re-entering the UK when free movement ends.” Applications for Settled Status are free and can be completed online. Applicants must be able to prove their identity, show that they live in the UK and declare any criminal convictions. Help applying for Settled Status is available from: EU Settlement Resolution Centre Telephone: 0300 123 7379 Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays), 8am to 8pm Saturday and Sunday, 9:30am to 4:30pm Questions can also be emailed via a form at https://eu-settled-status-enquiries.service.gov.uk/start
  • EU citizens are still be able to come to the UK on holiday and for short trips.
  • EU citizens and their families who were here before 31 October 2019 will be able to access benefits and services as they do now after free movement ends even if they haven’t applied for Settled Status by then, the Home Office says that they will Approve their entitlement to work, benefits and services “in the same way as they do now”

As always, you can call ITC to discuss concerns and seek advice on specific issues.