The following are the commonest (and
not so common) questions we get asked:
What do I need to do to get a work permit? What documents do
An actual proven offer of work in
the UK that is eligible for Tier 5 work permits, your passport
information, your address in your country of residence, your main
work address in the UK, dates of work in the UK, remuneration
(if any) and proof you are eligible for Tier 5 permits (typically
we can establish the last with an online search)
See opposite for the basic information
we need to process your permit application. We will then make
sure that the work is valid and that your act is established.
Filling in the form opposite is not a guarantee of a work permit
and we will not charge for a work permit until we have agreed
to process one
We will also need an agreement signed
by your employer to agree to pay any tax liability on your behalf,
designate a tour manager and, after you arrive, take responsibility
for providing us with a copy of your passport entry stamp and
signed receipts for all payments received
Remember: No work = no work permit!
Who is eligible for the work permits you process?
We can process Tier 5 Sporting and
Creative Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS). This covers the following:
Artists, Authors (writers), Actors,
Actors (entertainers), Dancers and choreographers, Musicians,
Arts (officers), Arts (producers and directors), Designers (graphic),
Designers (product clothing and related), Journalists (newspaper
and periodical), Journalists (editors), Broadcasting associate
professionals, Photographers and audio-visual equipment operators,
Religious workers, Sports (players), Sports (coaches), Sports
(instructors and officials), Sports (Fitness instructors), Sports
and fitness occupations n.e.c
How long can you process a CoS for?
Our standard fees are for up to 1month.
CoS can be up to 1 year renewable up to another year. We will
take on cases of that length on a case by case basis
How much does a CoS cost?
This depends on group size, number
of groupings, length of stay 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 £190
up to a group of 4 plus a refundable deposit of £100. Our
basic fee is less than that offered by the UK Border Agency
Why do you charge a £100 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
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 higher than
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
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 unless you are on a multiple entry
work permit and can demonstrate you are leaving the UK during
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 stamp in
your passport granting you entry to the country you are visiting.
A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
is an agreement between you, your sponsor (e.g. CME Artist Services)
and the UK Border Agency. 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?
Everyone needs a visa to enter the
UK if not from the EU. However, many countries have a 3 month
visa exemption agreement with the UK (if you're not from such
a country you are described as a "visa national") which
means you don't need to obtain a visa before you arrive if you
plan to stay for less than three months. You get your visa at
passport control when you enter the UK. We suggest you test your
exemption eligibility using the UKBA “do
I need a visa” link
However, if you plan to stay longer
than 3 months or if you are a non-visa national you will need
additional entry clearance (visa) from your nearest British Embassy
or Consulate or High Commission
If you need a visa before travel to
the UK you need to obtain your Certificate of Sponsorship first
(see below) and then (for most countries) apply online from the
Application Now" link
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 your CoS number before
applying for a visa
How much will a visa cost?
Currently, the fee for a tier 5 visa
application is £194. See visa
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 to case basis. Typically though
it will range from a few days to up to three weeks (in most cases
they are turned around within a week).
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's the difference between a visa and entry clearance?
Nothing. They are the same thing
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
Application Now" link
Do you process visa applications?
We can but we'd charge £50 per
person on top of what the UK Border Agency would charge. As you'd
effectively be paying for our time to do something you can do
yourself we recommend you save your money and do it yourself (see
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 entry stamp (aka visa) on arrival.
Visa nationals are from countries that don't have this arrangement
and will need a visa before the arrive to the UK for any length
of stay and for any reason. Please see "Visa
What is a Permittted Paid Engagement visa?
This is a 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 UKBA website. We believe there is a
cost involved equivalent to a Tier 5 processing fee and so we
aim to undercut that in cost but also in turnaround time. However,
as the PPE is a visa it is issued not by UKBA, or licensed sponsors
such as us, but by British Embassys (confused yet?!) and it is
our understanding that different Embassys will charge different
rates. To learn more we suggest contacting your nearest
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. This is a courtesy
not a right
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 reentering 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 UKBA 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 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 can if the work is with the same
employer or through the same agent but you or they MUST contact
us so that we can update your CoS accordingly with a migrant activity
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 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)?
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 £800 available per member of the travelling
party if you are not a "non-visa national" (see
We have our CoS and are coming from a country that doesn't have
a visa exemption program with the UK (i.e. we're "non-visa
nationals"). On the visa application we're required to show
we have £800 available in each of our bank account but we
understood that by getting a CoS our sponsor supplies the necessary
proof of maintenance
Yes, that would be logical. However,
a sponsor's licence maintenance guarantee can't help non-visa
national applicants so despite, technically, a sponsor's authority
to guarantee that maintenance your application will be refused
if you do not have a bank statement/s that can show £800
in your account up to three months before your application
I have read conflicting information about the amount of maintenance
I need to apply for a visa as a non-visa national. What is it,
£800 or £900?
£800 but owing to the vagaries
of immigration law & rules I would suggest you ensure you
have £900 to be safe
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 him?
Yes, even if he or she is 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
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?
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
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 UKBA
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 UKBA 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
If CME Artist Services charges more than the UK Border Agency
for larger groups and longer CoS why should we use your services?
We suggest you should use our services
for shorter lengths of stay and smaller groups for 100% guarantee
of receiving your CoS in a better turnaround time than the UK
We cannot afford or risk to process
large groups and / or long stays for any fees other than what
we've worked out. If the Border Agency can (and verdict is out
on that at the moment) then we're happy for them to take on that
exceptional workload at (in our opinion) an unsustainably low
price. If the Boston Philharmonic or the Chicago Bulls wanted
us to do their work permits we'd be honoured but we couldn't do
it for £194
What is the 28 day grace period?
Artists who over stay their visa stamp
(note that the end date on the visa stamp is usually later than
the date issued on the work permit by up to two weeks - but not
always. CHECK) can, under special circumstance, apply for an extension
to their visa (this covers other visas issued under the point
based system too). For more information please see UKBA announcement
I have questions not answered here. Is there a contact for more
Yes, email us at email@example.com
or call the workpermit hotline: +44 (0)7908 495549