Visa issues affecting Edinburgh Fringe performers

By Festival Fringe Society (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Festival Fringe Society (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A recent article in The Scotsman revealed the difficulties experienced by non-EEA Edinburgh Festival Fringe performers in obtaining visas to enable them to enter the UK and perform during the Festival.  These problems ranged from outright visa refusals, to prolonged delay of applications at the Home Office's massive entry clearance processing hub in Sheffield, where most entry clearance applications are now sent to for processing.  These issues have led to cancellation of shows, which as the article points out, has the effect of impacting upon the diversity of performers at the world's largest arts festival.  

It is sad that this is happening, though from my own experience, entry clearance application delays at Sheffield are being experienced across the board by people from all walks of life and across the globe, in a wide variety of different application types.  This type of delay affects everyone, creating uncertainty, worry, and expense, all of which are compounded by the impossibility of direct communication with the Home Office about timescales for decision-making on specific applications.

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a designated 'permit free festival' listed in the Visitors Appendix 5 to Appendix V to the Immigration Rules.  This means that performers at this festival are exceptionally permitted to receive payment for their work during the festival.  For more information about permit free festivals you can read our earlier blog post on the topic.