Would A-list Artists Need Tier 1 Visa To Work In The UK

You may be wondering how it is that a-list celebrities seem to be able to come and go freely between countries to work. World tours, one-off gigs and various other types of projects mean big celebrities often need to be able to travel around the globe and be able to work in each of those countries. 

Most countries have some sort of entry requirement to be able to work. While you may think this only applies to the average worker, you would be wrong! Even huge celebrities need a work visa when travelling to most countries (including the UK). Of course, the visa they require is going to vary depending on the type of work and the length of stay required. In the UK, there are various visa routes which are either designed with visiting celebrities in mind or can, at the very least, help them to achieve their aim.


Short-Term Visas For A-List Celebrities

There are various ways in which celebrities can enter the country but for short term engagements such as a concert, the Standard Visitor Visa is the most likely route. The Standard Visitor Visa allows visitors from outside of the EEA the opportunity to enter the UK for up to 6 months. While generally you cannot work in the UK on a Standard Visitor Visa, those who are in the UK as either a sportsman or a creative can work during their period of stay in the UK. So for those who need to only enter the UK for a short period, the Standard Visitor Visa is the ideal visa route. 

If the celebrity is looking to stay in the UK for longer than 6 months, the Standard Visitor Visa may not be the ideal visa route. We will cover some of the more suitable routes in the next section. While the Standard Visitor Visa offers individual stays of up to 6 months, there are extended options allowing for multiple visits of up to 6 months over a period of several years. These options are open to all, not just celebrities. You will, however, need a convincing reason to be able to apply for this extended version of the Standard Visitor Visa.

Long-Term Visas For A-List Celebrities

If the celebrity plans on coming to the UK for longer than 6 months (or indeed wishes to settle in the UK) then they will need an alternative visa to the Standard Visitor Visa. Options such as the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa offer stays of up to 5 years (and the option to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in as little as 3 years) but do require the celebrity to be endorsed by one of the following so-called “competent bodies”:

  • The Royal Society, for science and medicine
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering, for engineering
  • The British Academy, for humanities
  • Tech Nation, for digital technology
  • Arts Council England, for arts and culture

Endorsement for highly skilled celebrities such as musicians and actors, therefore, is straightforward. But what about other celebrities such as sports stars? In the next section, we will look at options for sports stars looking to enter the UK.

What About Sportspeople?

As you may have noticed, England’s Premier League has players from all over the world plying their trade in the UK. 

So how do they get in if they cannot use the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa? Good question. 


For footballers (and indeed any other renowned sportsman) there is an alternative set of options, these are:

  • The Tier 2 Sport Visa 
  • Tier 5 Sport Visa 

Why two different options you may ask? Well, the UK’s points-based system (PBS) visas (such as Tier 2 Sport) require the applicant to have a high level of English language skills. While this is unlikely to be a problem for those from an English-speaking country, many hubs of emerging football talent (such as South America and Africa) are not English speaking. This means that many players come to the UK without being able to speak a sufficient level of English to satisfy the requirements of the Tier 2 Sport Visa. In this instance, the player will need to enter the UK under the Tier 5 Sport Visa (no English language requirement) for up to 12 months or the length of their contract (whichever is shorter). 

Switching From Tier 5 Sport To Tier 2 Sport

Of course, the big issue with players coming into the UK on a Tier 5 Sport Visa is they will only be able to work on a short contract. In this instance, the player will need to build up a sufficient level of English language skill within the initial 12 month period and then be able to meet the requirements of the Tier 2 Sport Visa. At this stage, the player can then switch from the Tier 5 Sport Visa to the Tier 2 Sport Visa. This switch allows them to have a visa for up to 3 years which can be extended by a further 2 years depending on their contract with their club. 

After 5 years, sportspeople on Tier 2 Sport Visas can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK in the same way that many other visa holders do. Once they have been granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, the sportsperson can then be free of immigration controls and can opt to stay in the country indefinitely. As well as being able to stay in the country indefinitely, they will also be free to move clubs as and when they see fit.

So while celebrities often get incredible perks and lots of money, they do not get such an easy ride when it comes to visas. The UK, like many other countries, has rules in place to help celebrities enter the country, but these are still stringent, and there are still many a hurdle to jump, no matter how much they earn.

Whether you’re a celebrity or not, we can provide some guidance on a wide variety of immigration matters. Our expert team of immigration lawyers will be more than happy to help alleviate any issues or aid in your application process – so, don’t hesitate to get in touch!