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UKSolicitorJA, Solicitor
Category: UK Immigration Law
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I am an American classical musician who teaches at a college

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I am an American classical musician who teaches at a college in the Midwestern U.S. I am a tenured professor at this school and teaching is my main source of income. Two years ago, I traveled to the UK to give a concert at a prestigious London concert venue. Upon arriving at LHR airport, I gave the passport control officer an honest response as to why I was there. He asked if I had a Certificate of Sponsorship from the venue. I did not and had no knowledge that I needed one. He then proceeded to tell me that I did, regardless if I was getting paid for the concert or not (I wasn't, but my college covered my travel costs since they realized how good it looked on paper that I played at the venue). The passport control officer took my passport and talked to others in passport control for around 20 minutes before coming back and allowing me to enter. He did say though that he had the right to deny me entry because of the lack of paperwork and that the venue should have known about the issue. Fast forward to today. I am lined up to play a series of five concerts at four different venues in and around London. I've spoken to two of the larger ones and requested that they get things started re: the Certificate of Sponsorship. Both wrote back stating that they don't believe I need one since I'm not coming to the UK for employment (which is what Tier 5 appears to be concerning for entertainers, etc.). One of the venues said that since my main income is teaching, performing on the side is something different altogether and that it is not a conflict. They said, that is anything, I'd need to apply for a visa as an "entertainment visitor". Yet, the person at passport control mentioned that anything I'd be doing in the UK that has anything to do with my career field, whether paid or unpaid is considered my profession. So, at this point, my main questions are as follows: 1) Do you think my passport has been flagged based on the prior incident with passport control from my previous trip? 2) How do I handle the two venues I've contracted with for the concerts? One is simply hosting me for a small fee, and the other I've actually paid around $1000 US to rent the hall. The one paying the small fee said they didn't think they'd be approved/licensed to the point where I'd be able to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship with them. The venue I'm renting the hall from said they didn't think it would apply, since there's no way I'm an employee of them, since I'm not getting paid by them. 3) What is my best move going forward? WHAT SHOULD I DO IN ADVANCE OF TRAVEL, and WHAT SHOULD I SAY UPON ARRIVING AT LHR?  I am planning to do some sight seeing in London while I'm there, and I could do some research since I'm on sabbatical, but I'm concerned about actually clearing customs/immigration, and I don't want to be detained.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: UK Immigration Law
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 5 years ago.

I am happy to deal with your UK immigration law issues.

The Immigration officers at UK borders have discretion whether to allow you entry and you were lucky to have been allowed entry as I know of others similar to you who have been turned back.

You will certainly be flagged up if you return back to the UK. As you are getting paid a performance fee in the UK, you would technically be in breach of UK immigration law as you are now allowed to be paid on the visa waiver that you were allowed in.

I would not mention that you were paid if asked and next time, I would suggest that you apply for a Tier 5 Temporary Worker visa (creative):

All the best
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Doesmy past experience mean I will have issues at any time in the future should I travel to or through the UK, even if it is not for performing purposes? By 'issues', I mean additional questions? I guess I'm wondering if there has already been something entered into my file and I'd face additional scrutiny even if I was just going there on holiday.

And what do I do with the venues that do not believe they should register and be licensed with the UK government, since if they are not registered, then they can't apply to be my sponsor, which means, I can't apply for a certificate of sponsorship?
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 5 years ago.
If you are genuinely passing through the UK or entering as a bona fide tourist, you should be fine as long as you have return tickets, an itinerary, proof of funds etc.

You should show the colleges the requirements of the UK Border Agency for Certificates of Sponsorship on the UKBA website.

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