Home Office urged to reverse visa restrictions for US acts

musical instruments

Music industry groups and MPs are calling for a reversal of new visa restrictions for US and Canadian acts, which they say will force the cancellations of British tours.

The letter from Alex Sobel MP has been signed by 50 MPs and Peers — including the Shadow Home Secretary — as well as industry associations including UK Music, the Association for Festival Organisers and the Music Venue Trust.

It was delivered yesterday to the minister of state for immigration, Caroline Nokes MP, calling on her to reverse recent Home Office changes for visiting entertainers from the USA, Canada and South America.

The changes mean that acts from those territories now require UK visas if arriving via the Irish Republic – previously ‘a convenient first port of call’ for artists beginning their European tours.

Describing the changes as ‘bureaucratic box-ticking of the worst sort’, Sobel said: ‘The Home Office needs to apply some common sense to this issue and reinstate the old system for visiting entertainers.

‘The danger is performers arriving from the US and Canada are likely to organise shorter European tours – or not at all – due to the additional costs and bureaucracy.

‘At a time when we’re told the UK ought to be more outward looking and business focussed, the Home Office has chosen to impose a silly short-sighted policy on one of Britain’s most productive industries,’ he said.

UK Music deputy chief executive and director of public affairs, Tom Kiehl, added: ‘The UK music industry is worth £4.4bn to the economy and accounts for three of the four most popular arenas in the world, attracting global talent like Beyonce, Jay-Z, Taylor Swift and Eminem.

‘UK Visa and Immigration are now jeopardising this success by issuing advice that contradicts long established practice in the entertainment sector. The Government must look again to ensure the UK can maintain its position as a world leading destination for international tours.’

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