The following are the commonest (and
not so common) questions we get asked (for our take on Brexit
please see Brexit impact on Tier 5):
What do I need to do to get a work permit? What documents do
Please see our Sponsor
Checklist. In most cases you should be represented by an organisation
or individual in the UK working in music. This could be a promoter
/ purchaser / venue / festival / agent / record label / UK based
member of the act / individual running an event etc. We need to
also establish that you are an internationally recogised talent
How much does a CoS cost?
This depends on group size, number
of groupings, length of stay, whether you're a visa national or
not (see opposite) and whether you need to leave and re-enter
the UK more than once during your work period
for full breakdown of our costs. Our basic service rate is £100
and £25 per additional CoS. We can offer an additonal discount
for regular or repeat business on a case by case basis. In addition,
we do levy a £50 refundable security deposit per act (if
you do not abide by UK Immigration Law as clearly explained in
our sponsorship agreement you default the security deposit) and
the UKVI £21 processing fee per act. We do not charge VAT
Do your fees include VAT?
No. We do not charge VAT for our services
Who is eligible for the work permits you process?
We can process Tier 5 Creative Certificates
of Sponsorship (CoS) specialising in the creative sector, especially
music. For other areas we can assist on a case to case basis and
if we deem it is out of our remit we can refer to other agencies
we share referrals with
In many cases a band will include
a sound engineer or in big acts roles that include hair stylists
and beauticians and providing they are a necessary part of the
travelling party and necessary for the act's performance we can
issue CoS for them provided they are included in the group application.
This also relates to actors and dancers that may be involved in
an act's video production for example.
How long do you take to process a CoS?
Our guaranteed turnaround (once we've
agreed to sponsoring the act and have all the information we need
to process the CoS) is 5 to 10 business days. We can offer a 24
hour service in some cases but expedited rates are up to double
our standard rate
When can I apply for a CoS?
CoS can't be used more than three
months before work starts. Therefore if your work starts August
1st we can't issue you a CoS until May 1st of that year unless
you obtain a visa before the CoS applies. However, if you are
a visa national (you need to get your visa before you travel)
you can apply more than three months in advance providing you
get your visa stamps before the CoS has expired
What satifies the distinction of "internationally established"?
As a guideline you should have at
least 10,000 YouTube views and/or Soundcloud follows (similarly
10,000+ likes on Facebook). Alternatively, strong presence on
reputable Wikipedia entries, listing on US Billboard and other
online resources that clearly show the act is well-known beyond
the country of origin!
What are my obligations to the sponsor on arrival to the UK?
1. You or your UK representation must
ensure the sponsor receives copies of your passport entry stamps
(passport endorsements) on arrival.
2. Any changes to the act's circumstances
must be communicated to us as soon as known (show date change
/ cancellation / new show added / delayed arrival or departure
What impact will Brexit have on Tier 5 and
artists in general?
No surprise that we get asked this
quite a lot especially by European promoters and musicians. In
the first instance it's our opinion that, with the possible exception
of the Common Travel Area (CTA - see next question below) that
nothing will change.
Practially, even if there is a hard
Brexit and the UK leaves the European Economic Area (EEA) it is
inconceivable that the UK would require EEA nationals to obtain
visas to travel to the UK and vice versa.
Equally, because none of the EEA countries
(except the UK) currently enforce work permits for musicians /
artists coming from non-visa national countries for less than
3 months it is also unlikely (but not inconceivable considering
the apparent island mentality of the UK government at this time)
that the UK would start requiring work permits for EEA musicians.
For one thing to do this would exert an extra strain on an already
stretched UKVI and be potentially damaging to UK musicians travelling
abroad if there was a quid quo pro hardening of entry requirements
by EEA countries.
Lastly, none of this would have any
obvious impact on visa nationals who still need visas to travel
to any EEA countries.
What will happen to the Common Travel Area after Brexit?
This is harder to answer. The short
answer is simply "nobody knows". The basic principle
of the CTA is arguably flawed anyway. Currently, anyone entering
the UK via the CTA will not go through UK passport control. This
is why it's not possible to issue CoS for artists using that route
to travel to the UK - their CoS won't be activated.
Practically, if UK want to enforce
restrictions on EEA visitors entering the UK there will have to
be UK passport control in all countries in the CTA (Channel Islands,
Isle of Man, Republic of Ireland). This is almost certainly happen
as, arguably, a main reason for Brexit in the first place was
concern about EU immigration (this despite there being no evidence
whatsover that EU migration is a problem for the UK - quite the
converse in fact, but welcome back to that "island mentality"
Why can't I get sponsorship if I fly into the Republic of Ireland?
You cannot activate your CoS if you
enter the UK via the CTA (Common Travel Area of which RI is part)
because you will not pass through UK passport control. Therefore
we cannot sponsor you if you use this route and you will have
to obtain a Permitted
Paid Engagement visa instead.
I'm a visa national applying for Tier 5 visa online and I'm being
asked to provide a payment for International Health Service (IHS).
What is this and do I have to pay?
You do not have to pay IHS fee unless
you plan to be a resident in the UK. Tier 5 Creative is not a
residential visa and the presence of the IHS option on the application
is a Home Office bug. If you have to fill in the IHS fields in
order to complete the application put in a date span greater than
a month. If the visa officer handling your application tells you
that you need to pay IHS fee they are wrong. Have them call the
migrant helpline for clarification (+44 (0)300 123 2241)
Do I need a biometric visa?
You do not need a biometric visa unless
you are performing in the UK for more than six months
What if I don't give the sponsor copies of my visa stamp?
Failure to provide copies of the passport
endorsement stamps will default your deposit. Failure to produce
a visa stamp at all will result in no further sponsorship from
CME Artist Services and a report of abuse of the Sponsorship System
provided to the Home Office which can result in a five year UK
My passport expires within 6 months of my last performance. Can
I still travel to the UK?
Technicaly, UK passport control can
deny you entry. In practice they probably won't if you're holding
a CoS but there's no guarantee they won't so get a new passport
Do I need to have representation other than a sponsor?
If the sponsor is not employing you
then you will need UK representation. This could be a venue, promoter,
record label or booking agent. Regardless, the sponsor needs to
have an agreement with a respected organisation or individual
in the UK (or EU) who can take on the responsibilities of managing
the act and ensuring the terms of the sponsorship are kept or
if any changes to employment occur (cancelled show, additional
shows within the sponsorship period for example) that these changes
are communicated to the sponsor
If you refer our case to another agency do you charge a commission?
We do not charge commission on referrals.
We're a firm believer of what goes around comes around. We have
an excellent referral network of highly competent sponsors with
similar number of years of experience as our agency. These are
sponsors who cooperate with each other on best practice and help
each other out with heavy caseloads as well as policing abusers
of the sponsor system. However, almost none of them will take
on visa national clients
Why do you charge a security deposit?
This is to ensure we receive the documentation
needed after the Employee/s have arrived into the UK. These requirements
are on our standard agreement and we do not release the CoS until
this agreement is dated, signed and returned to us and our fees
are paid including the deposit. In addition for first time visa
nationals we usually insist on at least one visit to their events
so we can monitor the CoS holders in person and these travel costs
need to be met (relatively low as we have an agent in London)
I will be touring internationally for more than three months
before I enter the UK. If CoS have to be used within three months
of being issued what can I do?
Whether you are a visa national or
a non-visa national in this situation you will have to apply to
the British Consulate nearest you in your home country for a visa
before you travel. Provided your application is made in good time
before you start and within three months of us issuing the CoS
it will be marked as 'used' and you will have a valid stamp for
the time you're visiting the UK
How long does a CoS cover?
A CoS can be up to 12 months but anything
over 3 months you will need to apply for a visa even if your country
has a visa exemption agreement with the UK. The CoS can be renewed
for up to another 12 months for a total of 24 months. Anything
longer is not considered temporary and will require a different
Tier. However, you cannot have a gap of more than 14 days between
consecutive periods of work even if you are on a multiple entry
work permit and can demonstrate you are leaving the UK during
That said, we are extremely reluctant
to issue CoS for longer than a month (as this will require additional
tracking responsibilities) and we absolutely will not issue CoS
for more than one month for visa nationals
How big a gap is allowed between work dates?
No more than 14 days
The work permit is a visa right?
No it is not. A visa is a physical
stamp in your passport granting you entry to the country you are
visiting for a specific amount of time and defining the nature
of your visit.
A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
is an agreement between you, your sponsor (e.g. CME Artist Services)
and the Home Office. It allows you to work for a defined period
of time under the terms of the type of CoS you have
Do I need a visa?
Anyone from outside the EEA (European
Economic Area) entering the UK for longer than 3 months needs
a visa (some visitors can apply for a 6 month visa waiver). Citizens
of non-visa national countries do not need a visa if visiting
the UK for less than 3months. If you're from a visa national country
you will need a visa to entrer the UK unless on a 72 hour transite
exemption. If this is beginning to appear confusing we suggest
you test your exemption eligibility using the Home Office link“do
I need a visa”
If you need a visa you need to obtain
your Certificate of Sponsorship first (see below) and then (for
most countries) apply online from the Home Office "Visa
Application Now" link
Note: There is often confusion
about what a visa is. It is worth pointing out that a visa a physical
stamp in your passport. The kind of stamp you have defines the
kind of visit you're undertaking. This is the same internationally.
There's no such thing as a virtual visa so your visa can't change
or default to a tourist visa without an authorised passport control
officer stamping your passport (i.e. don't stay in the UK after
your Tier 5 visa expires thinking you will then default to a 3
month visitor visa waiver as you'll actually default to a five
or ten year ban instead!)
Do I need a visa before I get a work permit or do I need the
work permit to get the visa?
You get your CoS number before applying
for a visa
How much will a visa cost?
fees for all current visa costs
If I need a visa how long will it take to get one after I get
a work permit?
Only the British Consulate / Embassy
can approve a visa and only they can confirm how long it will
take on a country to country, case by case basis. Typically though
it will range from a few days to up to three weeks (the UKIV intention
is that, in most cases, 90% of visa are turned around within three
weeks of the application - we strongly recommend that you do the
application at least TWO months before you need it).
If your visa is declined it can take
6-8 weeks to appeal the decision which is why we implore visa
national applicants to get their application in at least two months
early and preferably three
If you are planning on entering the
UK soon we recommend you consult with the UK Embassy nearest you
in your country of residence before applying for a work permit.
No visa = no entry even if you have a CoS
What is a "non-visa national" as opposed to a "visa
Non-visa nationals are from those
countries that have a visa waiver program with the UK. They do
not need to obtain a visa (if their stay is shorter than 3 months)
before they arrive but receive the visa (aka entry stamp) on arrival.
Visa nationals are from countries that don't have this arrangement
and will need a visa before they arrive to the UK to work for
any length of stay (and somethimes for any reason even as a visitor).
Please see "Visa
What's the difference between a visa and entry endorsement?
A visa is an entry endorsement that
you get before you travel to the UK. On entering the UK with a
visa stamp you will receive only one other stamp and that will
be the date of entry, the port of entry and the Immigration offcier
stamping your passport's offical number. Travellers not needing
a visa will have entry date stamp plus an endorsement stamp that
will state the leave to remain date and the name of the sponsor
Where can I get a visa?
If you need a visa you need to obtain
your Certificate of Sponsorship first then apply online from the
Home Office "Visa
Application Now" link
Do you process visa applications?
We do not. The artist or artist management
should be capable of doing their own visa application online but
we are happy to help, for no fee, on the application process
We have an artist that has previously been denied entry to the
UK. Is this a problem with issuing this artist with a work permit?
(See also, "we have an artist currently charged / arrested
Typically this is a case by case situation.
If the artist made a genuine mistake (e.g. thought they didn't
need a CoS to perform in the UK and were denied entry) then a
CoS application will usually wipe out any previous issue. If the
case is filling in a visa application incorrectly in the past
(wrong visa for example) then, again, the artist will probably
be let in once the application is made correctly. If the act thought
they automatically reverted to a visitor visa after overstaying
their work permit (it doesn't - a visa has to be stamped in your
passport on entry or at a visa issuing office) that too should
result in an elimination of the five year statutory UK re-entry
work is someone who has been shown to have lied on their
visa application. For example, if an honest mistake on their part
on entry refusal is lied to on the application form. This will
result in a ten year ban with no help by being issued a CoS.
work is if the artist was apparently trying to move to
the UK and was refused (or we pick up that their reason for coming
is to gain residential entry). Again, unlikely they'll receive
clearance even with a CoS.
work is if the artist is the focus of criminal charges
in their country of origin - for example has been arrested (even
if not charged), has a pending court date or is on probation for
Promoters need to be aware that a)
they should do thorough due diligence on their artists and save
themselves a lot of effort (and money) because b) we will do due
diligence anyway and if we find they have a dubious individual
on their books we'll file a report for them and the individual
for release to the Home Office and our sponsor network
What is a Permittted Paid Engagement visa?
This is a relatively new visa created
by the UK Government (April 6th, 2012) that offers an alternative
(not a replacement) to a Tier 5 CoS for acts appearing in the
UK for less than one month. At time of writing information is
sketchy and more questions need answering. See our take on this
here with relevant
links to the Home Office website. However, as the PPE is a visa
it is issued not by Home Office, or licensed sponsors such as
us, but by British Consulates (confused yet?!) To learn more we
suggest contacting your nearest
Can CME Artist Services book us?
We currently only book one event,
Lancaster Music Festival (UK). Applications to perform in
the subsequent year are open Dec. 1st from the website
Our entry stamp has a later end date than the work period we
applied for. What does this mean?
Both the British Embassy and UK Passport
control usually (not always) add two weeks to whatever the last
date of your CoS was on their visa / entry stamp.
If our country has a three month visitor visa waiver with the
UK does our CoS automatically revert back to a visitor visa once
it has expired? Can we just stay in the UK for another three months
after our CoS has expired?
No. Visas are entry stamps in your
passport. A CoS therefore cannot simply revert back to a visitor
visa without a new stamp being entered into your passport. If
you do not leave the UK before your CoS visa stamp expires (or
renew through a passport centre) you are breaking the law and
could receive a 5 year ban from re-entering the UK
We have overstayed our Tier 5 visa stamp. We heard there is a
28 overstay exemption. Can we apply for a new Tier 5 visa while
still in the UK?
First, we wish folk wouldn't do this.
The Home Office usually add two weeks on to the visa stamp anyway as
a courtesy so this is (usually) taking the mick. We're not particularly
delighted to get this request (especially if it is from Employees
we have sponsored). But, now you're in the situation, yes there
is a 28
day overstay rule brought in October 2012. You will need to
obtain a new CoS and either visit a passport centre in the UK
or leave the UK and present your CoS when you re-enter. If you
are extending your stay for more than 3 months or if you are a
non-visa national you will have to visit a UK passport centre
Where can I get a visa stamp in the UK without leaving the country?
Is there a passport centre I can visit to get my stamp?
The (overworked) passport centre in
Croydon (Luna House) is the place to go for visa renewing in England.
There is a paid premium
service for appointments otherwise it is first come first
served (so get there early). Address: Lunar House, 40 Wellesley
Road, Croydon CR9 2BY. Office is open 8am to 4pm
As my visa stamp has an expiry date later than my CoS was issued
for can I take on extra work during that time?
You technically can but we will not
endorse this. If you take on work out of the CoS period even if
within the leave to remain date on your passport endorsement we
will revoke sponsorship online and report the action to the UKVI
As my visa stamp has an expiry date later than my CoS was issued
and I will be leaving and returing to the UK in the time after
my work has finished but during the time covered by the visa what
should I do?
If you are from a country that has
a visa agreement with the UK (i.e. you are a visa national) then
you can enter as a visitor (it is worth pointing this out to the
passport official on re entry to the UK to avoid confusion especially
if your original work pemit was only single entry). Otherwise
you may need to obtain a visitor visa from a UK passport office.
If you will be passing through en route to another destination
outside of the UK and will only be in the UK for up to 72 hours
you should be exempt of any visa requirement under the 72 hour
What is a sponsor note. What is a Migrant Activity note?
If we need to add any information
(e.g. additional work in the period covered by your entry stamp
/ CoS) or correct information (for example spelling of names,
address etc) we can do so by adding a sponsor note online to the
CoS (once the CoS is issued we cannot edit it in any other way).
A sponsor note is no good for work taken on after the CoS expires
or for drastic corrections to passport information (e.g. if we've
been given the wrong passport information we'll have to create
For a CoS that's 'used' (i.e. has
had a visa issued on it) we have to use the Migrant Activity facility
to update your CoS (this includes change of circumstances as well
as immigration offences such as overstaying or abscounding from
Do I need an entertainment visa?
Almost certianly not.
An entertainment visa is an entry
visa for entertainers who live in a country that does not have
visa exemption with the UK. It does not allow you to take on paid
work. You are best getting a CoS and then applying for a visa
from the British Consulate nearest you.
Entertainment visas (in our opinion)
are a confusing waste of time and are effectively worthless
I'm a visa national and I read it takes a long time to get a
point based UK work permit. Is this true?
The points needed for a Tier 5 Sporting
and Creative Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) are covered once
you've been approved by a Grade A level sponsor and therefore
can be processed quickly online (provided you're not a "non-visa
national" - see below)
What points are needed for Tier 5 Sporting and Creative Certificate
of Sponsorship (CoS) visa (visa nationals only)?
Tier 5 CoS applicants require 40 points.
Locating a sponsor is worth 30 points and providing proof of maintenance
while in the UK is worth 10 points. If your sponsor is Grade A
level they can accept responsibility for your maintenance, otherwise
you must demonstrate with bank statements and/or bank affidavits
that you have £900 available per member of the travelling
party if you are not a "non-visa national" (see
We're a band of four musicians and we want to bring our light
and sound engineer with us too. Do we need a CoS for them?
Yes, even if they are not being paid,
all members of your travelling party if integral to the work you
are doing in the UK must have their own CoS. This includes managers,
directors, choreographers, dancers, hair stylists and engineers
Do I have to pay tax on my earnings in the UK, and is there a
minimum amount of earnings that are tax exempt?
If you earn more than £9940
in the calendar year you will have to pay 22% on the total and
this should be deducted by your UK employer using form FEU50
from HMRC. As a non-UK resident you cannot pay the tax liability
I have a show in the UK but I am not being paid. Do I still need
Technically, the UK Border Immigration
Agency will require a CoS even for unpaid work however there are
some exceptions for unpaid educational (e.g. giving a seminar),
some charitable and cultural work (e.g. a free workshop). In these
cases the organisers of the event should be resonsible for ensuring
your entry requirements are met
If I need a CoS at short notice is there an extra fee?
We charge an extra 25% on our published
rates for 72 hour turnaround, 50% for 48 hour turnaround and 100%
for same day. See FEES for full
breakdown of our rates.
I am already in the UK as a visitor. Can I apply for a CoS while
No. You must be outside the UK to
apply but you don't need to be in your home country. You could,
for example, apply from any EU country other than the UK
I already have a Tier 5 CoS and wish to extend it. Can I apply
for a CoS extension while here?
Yes. But not under our sponsorship
I already have a Tier 5 CoS and wish to extend it but my visa
is about to expire. What do I do?
If you require a visa to enter the
UK, technically as soon as your visa has expired you are no longer
legally in the country. However, for Tier 5 you can remain while
your new visa is being processed if you are provided with a CoS
before the visa expiration date. We do not support this however
What exactly is a CoS and what does it look like? What is the
difference between a CoS and a work permit?
A CoS is synonymous with a work permit.
They're the same thing except calling it a Certificate of Sponsorship
describes better what it is, i.e. an agreement between you, a
UK licensed sponsor and Home Office
The certificate of sponsorship is
an online document. All the sponsored individual needs is the
CoS number (though we provide a screenshot of the certificate
as well). This you show to Immigration on entry to the UK (or
first to a British Embassy with your passport if you need a visa)
Do I need a letter of sponsorship?
If you need a visa you should only
need the CoS number but some British Consulates might require
a letter too in which case you can use the confirmation letter
we send along with your CoS number
Do you process work permits for other countries other than the
No. However, we are always interested
in teaming up with individuals or organisations in other countries
who do what we do but in their countries. We're particularly eager
to work something out with a USA agency as obtaining work permits
in the USA is much harder than to do so in the UK yet there's
opportunities galore for band exchanges between the US and UK
if we can resolve that!
Does a sponsor do anything else?
We report to Home Office any transgression
on the part of the CoS holder during their stay (or over stay
for example) and have the legal right to withdraw a CoS if we
suspect a transgression has taken place
Also, as your sponsor, we do have
a duty of care and will assist you in your stay with advice, contacts
and if need be intervention on your behalf if you have been wronged
in any way.
Any major expenses incurred on your
behalf we will seek to recover. However, we're not so petty that
we'd bill you for our time or for phone calls or letter writing.
We do, after all, want your stay in the UK to be an enjoyable
and rewarding one
I have questions not answered here. Is there a contact for more
Yes, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call the workpermit hotline: +44 (0)7908 495549