Visa & Work Permit Questions

Do I need a visa to perform in the United States?

All performances by UK artists in the United States will require a visa. This requirement applies whether or not you are being paid for your performances. A potential exemption exists for artists invited to perform at industry-facing events, conferences or showcases such as ‘South by South West’. This exemption is explained in the next FAQ.

Following discussions with the US authorities, the Musicians’ Union has confirmed that provided an artist has been invited to perform at an industry facing event, conference or showcase such as ‘South by South West’, ‘CMJ’, ‘A3C’, ‘AMA’ and ‘Folk Alliance International’ for no fee, the artist will be able to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme or ESTA.

The Musicians’ Union has provided a concise information leaflet and a letter in support of your application to enter the United States here.

Please note that it is up to you as the artist to prove to the Border Officer at the point of entry to the United States that you have the right to enter the country.

Despite the above advice, certain artists were denied entry into the United States to play South by South West in 2017.  This included London-based drummer Yussef Kamaal. It appears the safest way to ensure that you are entitled to perform at events in the United States is to obtain a performance visa (a so-called P-1 Visa), and not rely on the Visa Waiver Program or ESTA. This advice remains more relevant than ever given Donald Trump’s attempt to implement significantly strengthened immigration controls – often with little or no warning.

All UK citizens have the right to work in any country in the European Economic Area (EEA) without a work permit. This right extends to Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. For a current list of countries in the EEA please click here.

A work permit will need to be obtained to allow you to work in most non-EU countries if you are a UK citizen. To obtain a work permit you will typically need to provide written evidence of the work you will be undertaking, such as an invitation from a European showcase event.

No visa is required for UK citizens wishing yo work in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

UK citizens need an eTA (an Electronic Travel Authorization) to visit Canada by air. You can apply for one here.

UK citizens (including key support staff) do not need a work permit to perform in Canada, unless they:

  • will perform in Canada for an extended period of time;
  • are being hired for ongoing employment by the Canadian group that has contracted them; or
  • are involved in making a movie, television or radio broadcast.

Yes. Band members, including non-performing members accompanying the group (e.g. tour managers), must obtain a Certificate of Eligibility to apply for a visa. A sponsor in Japan (e.g. a tour promoter) must contact their local immigration office and make an application on each performers behalf.

Once a Certificate of Eligibility has been obtained, you can use the Certificate of Eligibility to apply for a work visa. It typically takes 4 working days to issue a visa.

Classical musicians, members of symphony orchestras, theatre groups and opera singers who have been invited to Japan either to perform publicly for remuneration or to participate in a competition may apply for visas with alternative documents in place of a Certificate of Eligibility. If you fall into one of these categories, then you should contact the visa officer at the Japanese Embassy in London before you apply for a visa for further information.

Yes. All UK citizens wishing to work in Australia’s entertainment industry will require a temporary work visa for
the duration of their stay. The most appropriate visa for entertainers wishing to work in Australia will be the Temporary Work (Entertainment) (subclass 420) visa. However, there are limited circumstances where one of the following visas may be available:

  • Visitor (subclass 600);
  • Electronic Travel Authority (subclass 601); and
  • eVisitor (subclass 651).

Please contact the Australian Embassy for further information.