Living and working in the UK is desirable for many different purposes; the country has much to offer, and people come from all over the world to stay. The Tier 5 visas are designed to provide a route for entrants who only intend to stay for a short period, and while many of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 visas cater for long-term employment and business investors, Tier 5 is geared specifically towards short-term employment in various professions.
Under Tier 5, it is possible to apply for a visa if the applicant is entering the country as a sportsperson, or is involved with some form of creative project. This can include many diverse professions, and as such the Tier 5 visa must accommodate a wide variety of skills. In doing so, it provides a pathway which allows the UK’s creative and athletic sectors to take advantage of the world’s supply of extremely talented individuals, whether they’re footballers, dancers, actors, musicians, directors or coaches.
The Tier 5 Creative and Sporting visa differs from the other visas in this tier in several significant ways, which we will cover in this article. Although the most important points will be raised, and potential issues for candidates highlighted, applicants should make sure to thoroughly read the Government’s own guidelines for these visa applications, available from the Home Office website.
Who is the Tier 5 Creative and Sporting Visa for?
Many visa application processes focus on the financial benefit to the applicant’s entry, taking the candidate’s salary and likely future earnings into account to reach a decision. However, this doesn’t fully accommodate the range of applicants who stand to provide a positive impact to the UK, as there are plenty of individuals whose talents can bring benefits to the UK both culturally and economically, but who may not fit the criteria for a finance-based assessment. This visa, therefore, allows applicants to demonstrate their potential benefit by submitting details of the work they’ll be undertaking, and providing evidence of the value they’ll provide.
This form of visa is uniquely suited to applicants who will only remain in the UK for under 12 months; this visa grants a maximum stay of one year, or the length of employment plus 28 days - whichever is the shortest. This means that performers and athletes are enabled to live and work in the UK while their contract lasts, without needing to complete a lengthy and expensive Tier 2 application (which would allow a longer stay). Tier 5 visas are usually returned within 3 weeks of application, and generally cost less than other tiers; this makes it ideally suited to individuals who move around often, such as touring performers or athletes. A circus performer, for instance, may intend to work in the UK for just a few months, and the Tier 5 Creative visa would allow them to do just that.
Timeline and Costs
Like most visas, it’s only possible to apply for this visa up to 3 months in advance of the applicant’s employment commencing. If successful, the applicant may then enter the country up to 14 days in advance of beginning their employment, but no earlier. Because a Tier 5 visa is usually decided within 3 weeks, this allows applicants a certain amount of flexibility with the timeframe in which they apply. However, the 3-week turnaround is only a guideline, and delays can occur - candidates should submit their applications with time to spare.
This visa costs £230, and may be applied for online. If the applicant wishes to make use of it, a premium “priority” service is available, which cuts the waiting time from 3 weeks to 10 days. This can be extremely useful for applicants who need to extend or receive their visa as quickly as possible, but the amount of applications accepted are restricted; only the first 60 requests received after 8:30 am each day are processed. The priority service also costs an additional £500, a hefty sum when compared to the standard cost of application.
Eligibility for the Tier 5 Visa
There are two paths which can be used to apply for this visa, each of which requires different evidence to be submitted by the applicant. This evidence will include a “certificate of sponsorship reference number”, which shows the Government what work the candidate will be undertaking whilst in the UK, what they’ll be paid for it and how long it will last. Candidates will also need to meet the “maintenance requirement” of holding at least £945 in their bank account for 90 days or more, to demonstrate that they’ll be able to meet the initial costs of supporting themselves in the UK.
Creative workers must demonstrate that they will make a unique contribution to the UK labour force, and must have an endorsement to this effect from the relevant authority in the UK. This endorsement is usually obtained by the applicant’s employer, who will be providing their certificate of sponsorship reference number. In addition to this, the applicant must receive a salary that is in line with the minimum wage as set by their sector’s governing bodies (musicians, models and circus performers are exempt from this requirement).
Applicants for this visa must demonstrate that they contribute at the highest to UK sport in their field, an endorsement which should be sought from their sport’s leading organisation by their sponsor.
What can applicants do once in the UK?
As with all visas, entrants on a Tier 5 visa are restricted in what they can do once in the UK. However, the terms of this visa are straightforward, and allow applicants to undertake many activities during their stay. Applicants cannot access public funds; nor can they start a business. However, they are free to study and work while in the country, (though they may need to receive consent to do so). They are also able to bring their family with them, though at an additional cost.