Actors and artists wanting to enter the UK on new “exceptional talent” visas will have to prove they are either “an established, world-class artist or an internationally recognised expert”, according to criteria set out by Arts Council England.
The scheme will allow high-profile arts figures to come to the UK on special visas for up to three years and four months without having a job lined up. ACE and producers trade body PACT will assess applications in the culture and entertainment sectors, for which 300 visas are available in the first year.
Applicants will have to submit a range of documentary proof, including two letters of endorsement from arts or cultural organisations. Artists will also be required to submit evidence of two of the following – significant media recognition, international awards or proof of appearances in “recognised international contexts”.
Anupam Ganguli, executive director at ACE, said: “We are pleased the government recognises the contribution outstanding artistic talent plays in the social and economic life of the country, and look forward to working with the Home Office and others to help ensure audiences have the opportunity to experience outstanding artistic talent from around the world.”
Applications will be assessed by specialists within the arts council and PACT. These organisations will advise the UK Border Agency on whether a candidate qualifies for “exceptional talent” status. The agency will then take the decision on whether or not to grant the visa.
The UK Border Agency is now accepting applications for the tier one “exceptional talent” visas for entry during the financial year 2012/13.
PACT will assess applications from the film, TV, animation, post-production and special visual effects sectors, while ACE will deal with bids from the arts.
The scheme is a pilot and will be reviewed to assess whether the criteria, quotas or the ways in which applicants are assessed need to be changed.