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Visiting Artists Visa Scheme

Arts Council England has published the criteria for the new special visa scheme allowing the very best artists of international standing to live and work in the UK. Their guidance criteria outlines how they will manage the applications received and sets out the standard, amount of evidence and documentation required in order to decide whether an individual qualifies for a Tier 1 visa.
Further to the Home Office announcement on 20th July, the Arts Council has been appointed as a Designated Competent Body working with the UKBA to implement the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category of the points-based visa system. This measure follows our established work with the UK Border Agency (UKBA) via the Arts and Entertainment Taskforce which considers issues around artists’ entry into the UK.
Tier 1 is a route for entry to the UK for people of exceptional talent to live and work in this country. Artists can also be granted visas through applying for Tier 2 and Tier 5 visas. ACE’s remit, however, will only allow them to make recommendations under Tier 1. UKBA remains the decision making body for the allocation of all visas, including Tier 1.
The Home Office has made 1,000 visas available through this route in the first year. Of these, 300 places have been reserved for artists and creative people working in film and television who have a proven high level international reputation. In line with the Home Office guidance arts applicants must demonstrate that they are exceptionally talented in their field, either as an established, world class artist or an internationally recognised expert.
Arts applicants must be able to demonstrate that they are professionally engaged in producing work of outstanding quality that has been published, performed, presented, distributed or exhibited internationally. They will be asked to provide two types of evidence with their application – evidence of exceptional talent in their field and endorsement from arts or cultural organisations.


Evidence of exceptional talent must support their application in two of three ways:
1.    significant media recognition
2.    international awards for excellence,
3.    proof of appearances or exhibitions in recognised international contexts.
Full criteria can be found on the Arts Council website.
All applications will be assessed by artform and other sector specialists. Following this assessment the Arts Council will advise the UK Border Agency on whether an applicant can be defined as possessing exceptional talent according to the published criteria. The UK Border Agency will then decide whether or not to grant entry to an applicant.
Applications from the film, television, animation, post production and visual effects sectors will be assessed by the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television (PACT) in accordance with the process and guidance set out by the Arts Council.
The Arts Council has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with PACT, setting out how we will work together on Tier 1 applications. This ensures all arts applications will be assessed by specialists from the relevant field.