By Tijen Ahmet, legal director at Shakespeare Martineau

Aside from rain, the British summer conjures up images of festivals and sitting in a field watching music acts, cold drink in hand. However, for a country which has fostered such a strong international reputation for the variety and quality of its acts at outdoor festivals, the post-2021 immigration system should be at the top of the set list.

For the 42 events on the Home Office’s list of ‘permit-free festivals’, performers will be able to come to the UK with a ‘Business Creative Visa’ under the standard visit rules that allow multiple entries over a six-month period. However, for organisers of other events, the simple process of booking EU acts and arranging travel to the UK is set to become much more complicated.

Upon leaving the EU, free movement to the UK will end and all international migrants coming to the UK to work will have to address complexities at the point of entry. Under this system, artists, entertainers and musicians from the EU will have to meet minimum criteria and apply through the skills-based immigration system. Whether the need is for a temporary visa under Tier 5 of the current points-based system or a creative skilled worker visa under Tier 2, employers will have to foot the bill for costs and sponsor licences.

Event organisers themselves will also have to apply for a sponsor licence, in order to bring in non-UK talent, racking up yet further costs. Considering the number of people involved in a music act, visa costs alone could skyrocket into the thousands. ​For the larger players who can apply for group certificates, this will be less of a problem, however, for smaller, independent operators, these surprise costs could be devastating.

The UK is on the brink of a brave new world when it comes to immigration and there will undoubtedly be a price tag attached. An end to free movement in the EU will affect the way businesses across many sectors source their workers – understanding how the proposed visa changes will affect international acts coming to work in the UK is essential and planning ahead is crucial.

Failing to do so could result in hefty, unexpected bills and everybody’s worst nightmare: gaps in an otherwise stellar setlist.

Tijen works with global UK businesses advising on strategic international recruitment and supports with immigration compliance facilitating assignments and relocation. 

Tijen is widely recognised as an expert in UK business immigration. She represents high net worth entrepreneurs with inward investment and helps them navigate through the complexities of the rules and practicalities of relocation. 

Tijen’s clients include senior HR teams of multi-nationals and SME’s, through to secure overseas talent through sponsorship visas.

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Molly joined the editorial team in March 2019. She has several years’ experience working in broadcast and journalism, as well as marketing and PR. Past experience includes working for the BBC and independent publishing houses. If you have a story you think Molly might be interested in, please email: