How to Apply for a UK Creative Worker Visa

If you want to work within the UK’s bustling arts and culture industry, you may be interested in the Creative Worker Visa. In this article I will discuss the basics of this immigration route as well as briefly cover some alternatives.

What Is the Creative Worker Visa and Am I Eligible?

The Creative Worker Visa is a short-term visa which allows Creative Workers to come to the UK for up to 12 months and, if they wish to continue working for the same sponsor, to extend their stay for a maximum of 24 months. While this is a great short-term option, this is not a direct route for settlement. However, it may be possible to switch into another immigration route which can lead to indefinite leave to remain.

A Creative Worker is someone who works as an entertainer, creative artist, fashion model, or entourage. There is no exhaustive list of roles which fall under this category, though the guidance helps us by confirming that Creative Workers may work within the following industries:

  • Dance;
  • Music;
  • Film;
  • Theatre;
  • Television;
  • Circuses;
  • Opera; and
  • Fashion Modelling.

Creative Workers may also bring their entourage to the UK, which includes production crew and personal assistants to directors or producers.

Who Can Sponsor a Creative Worker?

To apply for a creative worker visa you must have a sponsor. Contrary to other sponsored work routes, including the Skilled Worker route, an applicant’s sponsor need not be their direct employer.  The sponsor can be:

  • Your direct employer;
  • A producer, co-producer, or general management company if you are employed through a Special Purpose Vehicle;
  • Your venue;
  • Your promoter; and
  • Your  agent, based in the UK.

It is important to check that your employer has a sponsor licence and understands the duties that come with being a sponsor.

How Do I Get a Creative Worker Certificate of Sponsorship?

Your sponsor will assign you a certificate of sponsorship (CoS). In order to be assigned a CoS you must fall within one of the following three categories:

  • You comply with the relevant Code of Practice under Appendix Creative Workers Codes of Practice, if one exists for your occupation. For example you may be internationally famous in your field, or perhaps you worked with the production before and they require you for continuity;
  • Your job is on the shortage occupation list under Appendix Shortage Occupation List; or
  • Your sponsor has conducted a resident labour market in that field and is satisfied that the work could not be carried out by a settled worker.

How Do I Apply for a Creative Worker Visa?

Once you have been assigned a CoS, most applicants will need to complete the Home Office’s online application form for a Creative Worker Visa.

In either case, you must “genuinely intend” and be capable of performing whatever engagement you are coming to the UK to do. You must not carry out any other employment during the period in which you are in the UK.  The Immigration Rules define the terms “employment” and “work” very broadly, so be careful not to breach the conditions of your stay.

If you are applying from outside the UK or have spent less than one year in the UK, you must show that you have enough money to maintain yourself and any dependents. Your sponsor can choose to certify your maintenance on your CoS.

In addition, your sponsor must pay you above the minimum wage, unless you are exempt, in which case they must add a sponsor note to the CoS.

Switching into the Creative Worker route from within the UK is not normally permitted.

What Alternatives Are There to the Creative Worker Visa?

There are several alternatives to the Creative Worker Visa, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Global Talent Visa
  • Permitted Paid Engagement Visa
  • Creative Visit Visa
  • Skilled Worker Visa

Contact our Immigration Solicitors

Our immigration solicitors will be able to advise you as to which option is right for you. For expert advice and assistance in relation to Creative Worker, Global Talent and Skilled Worker applications, please contact our immigration solicitors on 020 8240 9018 or via the enquiry form on our website.