Visas for non EU artists and academics

In November 2008, the Home Office introduced new restrictions on international artists and academics visiting the UK for talks, temporary exhibitions, concerts or artists’ residencies.

In February 2009, civil liberties campaigners the Manifesto Club launched their Visiting Artists Campaign, which has won support from artists, musicians, gallery directors, academics and students. In June 2009, they launched their report UK Arts and Culture: Cancelled, by Order of the Home Office, detailing the restrictions and the damaging effect that these regulations are having on UK cultural life.

According to the report, “In November 2008, the Home Office introduced a new points-based system (PBS) and visa restrictions, which affected international artists and academics visiting the UK for talks, exhibitions, concerts or residencies.

The new points-based system includes harsh new controls on non-EU visitors, including:

  • Visitors now must apply for a visa in person and supply biometric data, electronic fingerprint scans and a digital photograph;
  • Individuals must either show that they have at least £800 of savings, which have been held for at least three months prior to the date of their application, or the host organisation will maintain and accommodate the migrant until the end of their first month of employment in the UK;
  • The host organisation must keep copies of the visitor’s passport and their UK biometric card, and a history of their contact details;
  • If the visitor does not turn up to their studio or place of work, or their whereabouts are unknown, the organisation is legally obliged to inform the UK Border Agency.”

To view the full report, please click here.
English PEN is joining the call for these regulations to be reconsidered, and urges PEN members to voice their concerns. There are a number of ways in which you can take action:

1. Sign the petition

To read and sign the Manifesto Club petition against these restrictions, please click here.

2. Write to your local MP (via Write to Them)

  • Explaining your concerns about the issue, and the effects on artists, scholars and many other professions. If you have been personally/professionally affected give them a brief account of what happened;
  • Letting  them know that the points-based system could have a potentially detrimental effect on the UK arts and cultural sector, and that it may affect local arts groups and festivals in his/her constituency;
  • Asking your MP to consider raising the issue with the Home Secretary and/or Home Office ministers

3. Artists’ Testimonies
The Manifesto Club are still looking for accounts of cancelled events, and other problems that these regulations are causing for organisations who work with international artists and academics. To post a comment, email:

4. Complete the Manifesto Club online survey

If you have been (or will be) affected by these regulations, please do complete the Manifesto Club online survey by clicking here.

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