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Coming to work in Wales

If you’re coming to work in Wales from outside the UK, you may need a visa in order to do so. In this section you will find a basic guide to the rules which might apply to you depending on where you are from, how long you would like to stay, and what you would like to do when you’re here.

What you’ll need to know:

· Wales is part of the United Kindgom (the ‘UK’) and shares the same entry and visa requirements as Scotland, England and Northern Ireland.

· A ‘visa national’ is a person from a country that needs a visa to enter the UK.

· A ‘non-visa national’ is a person from a country that does not need a visa to enter the UK.

· ‘Entry Clearance’ is permission to enter the UK.

· The ‘European Economic Area (EEA)’ is an economic association of EU states which permits common rights to its residents, including rights of movement and employment.

· A ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’ is a license issued by your employer in the UK. This is not your visa. Unless you are from the European Economic Area you will need a Certificate of Sponsorship to work in the UK.

How to apply for a visa
In many countries you will need to apply for your visa online before you travel. You will then make an appointment during this online process to submit your printed and signed form in person at your nearest visa application centre. Some countries do not have an online application facility and in this case you will need to complete a visa application form, sign and present it in person at a visa application centre .

When should I apply?
You must apply for your visa at least 15 working days before it is needed, to allow time for your application to be processed. The earliest you can apply for your visa is 3 months before you travel. There is no automatic fast track service for visas. As part of the visa application process, you will need to send your passport to the UK Border Agency. Please check on the UK Border Agency website to find out how long the processing times are for the country that you are applying from.

All visa applications will require you to attend your local visa application centre to submit your biometric details . This involves a digital photograph and a ten digit finger scan being taken. Your application cannot be assessed until these details have been submitted.

Coming to Wales from elsewhere in Europe
If you’re coming to visit or work in Wales as a national from another European country that sits within the EEA (the European Economic Area), you will not need to apply for a visa. The EEA is a non-visa area and includes the following countries:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Irish Republic
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

If you are coming to Wales as a Bulgarian or Romanian national, however, you may need an accession worker card. You may also need a work permit in order to apply for the accession worker card. For further details please visit the UK Border Agency ‘s website.

Non-Visa countries outside the EEA

There are other non-visa countries outside the EEA including the USA, Australia, Japan, Singapore and Canada. You will not need a visa to come and visit or work in the UK if you are a national in one of these other countries, if you enter as a temporary worker for less than 3 months in the Tier 5 Creative and Sporting category, however, you will still require a Certificate of Sponsorship – please see our infosheet on Certificates of Sponsorship for more information.

Please note - even if you have rights of residency in a non-visa country, if you are a national of a country whose citizens require a visa to enter the UK, you will require a visa to enter the UK. In some cases you will be able to enter the UK without a visa (with a Certificate of Sponsorship) for up to three months – please check the UK Border Agency website and take the visa questionnaire to determine what documents you will need.

Coming to Wales from a visa national country

If you’re coming to visit Wales for any reason as a national from a visa national country you will require a visa. A list of visa national countries is below.

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Benin
  • Bhutan
  • Bissau
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Cameroon
  • Cape Verde
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • China, People’s Rep.of
  • Colombia
  • Comoros
  • Congo, Dem.Republic of
  • Congo, Republic of (Congo Brazzaville)
  • Cuba
  • Cyprus, northern part of
  • Djibouti

Dominican Republic

  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Fiji
  • former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Georgia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Ivory Coast
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Korea (Dem.People’s Rep)
  • Kosovo
  • Kuwait
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • Nepal
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Authority
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Russia
  • Rwanda
  • Sao Tome & Principe
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Serbia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • South Africa
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Surinam
  • Swaziland
  • Syria
  • Tajikistan
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vatican City (service and emergency passports only)
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

You may need to provide evidence on arrival that you can support yourself financially and that you intend to leave the UK within 6 months. More information can be found here.

If you are coming to work in Wales as a national from a visa national country, you will require a visa. You might also require a Certificate of Sponsorship from the organisation in the UK arranging your visit – more information on this can be found in our infosheet on Certificates of Sponsorship.

The UK Border Agency website provides advice through its Visa Services website here which includes an online questionnaire that you can use to determine what kind of visa you might require. There are a number of different points-based visas which are split into ‘tiers’ as well as other specialist categories, including a visa for Entertainers. You will need to decide what kind of visa you need, based on your personal circumstances. The main visa categories are as follows:

Tier 1 Visa: For general visitors, entrepreneurs and investors
Tier 2 Visa: For skilled workers
Tier 4 Visa: For studies
Tier 5 Visa: For temporary work
Entertainer Visitor Visa.

If you are coming to Wales to work as a cultural practitioner it’s most likely that you will need to apply under Tier 5 under the ‘Creative and Sporting’ category or the Entertainer Visitor Visa.

Tier 5 Creative and Sporting Visas

This visa allows you to undertake paid, temporary work for up to 12 months. You will need to apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship through your sponsor in the UK before you apply for your visa. If you are a non-visa national you can apply for a visa for up to three months when you arrive in the UK. If you are a visa national, you should apply for a visa in your country of residence or from your current location if you are on a tour.

Tier 5 visas fall within the points-based system operated by the UK Border Agency. This means that you will need to ensure you have the required number of points to make an application to enter the UK. You will find the points calculator on the UK Border Agency website.

If you need to leave and come back to the UK as part of your work, you can get a multiple entry certificate of sponsorship from your employer. However, if you leave the UK and you were given no more than 6 months' permission to stay, you will lose the right to come back again. You will need to apply again from abroad.

You cannot get a multiple entry certificate of sponsorship if you are coming to the UK for fewer than three months and are a non-visa national. If you need to come to the UK to undertake multiple engagements or performances, see our infosheet on certificates of sponsorship for more information.

Further information on Tier 5 can be found here and further information on the Creative and Sporting category can be found here.

Entertainer Visitor Visa

The Entertainer Visitor Visa is for people coming to Wales to attend or take part in charity events, music competitions, auditions, public appearances as an amateur group or to take part in major arts festivals on the permit-free festivals list . The list can be found here. Applications for an Entertainer Visitor Visa will be considered against certain criteria for example whether the event is supported by one of the Arts Councils in the UK or a similar body.

If you are a visa national you can apply for an entertainer visitor visa at your nearest application centre or on the UK Border Agency website before you enter the UK. If you are a non-visa national you can apply for an entertainer visitor visa on arrival at the UK border if you need one. You can take the visa questionnaire on the UK Border Agency website to determine whether you will need a visa.

Your visa application will need to contain

· a letter of invitation from a UK organisation or an event organiser confirming your attendance and/or participation at the event.

· Confirmation of what costs the UK sponsor will meet and whether you will be paid or not

· Evidence of your personal and financial circumstances in your country of residence for example a contract of employment or a letter from your employer stating that you can return to do your job.

· If you are making an application for a long-term visitor visa you will need to provide evidence of your previous travel history.

You can apply for a long-term entertainer visitor visa if you often visit the UK for short periods of time. It is valid for periods of one, two or five years. This allows you to stay in the UK for up to 6 months at a time but you must not spend more than 180 days here in any 12 month period.

Changes to Immigration Rules

Home Office immigration rules pre-dating 06 April 2012 do not permit business or creative activities to be undertaken as a visitor where the individual receives a fee payment. However, from 06 April 2012 the Home Office is amending the visitor rules to create a new category for a small number of pre-arranged, specified permitted activities which will allow the visitor to receive fee payment.

The new route ("permitted paid engagements") will cater for a limited group of migrants who are invited to come to the UK because of their particular skill or expertise. The individual must be able to show that they have a formal invitation to carry out the engagement, and that the specific activity relates to their area of expertise and/or qualifications, and full-time occupation overseas.

The permitted activities include:

  • Professional artists, entertainers or sports-persons carrying out an activity relating to their main profession (e.g. artists exhibiting and selling their works; authors doing book signings; entertainers giving one-off or a short series of performances and sports-persons providing guest commentary in their field of sport).
  • Professionals invited by a UK higher education institution or other research or arts organisation to give one or a short series of paid lectures in their field of expertise as a visiting lecturer.
  • Examiners/assessors invited to participate in and/or chair a selection panel as part of that institution or organisation’s quality assurance processes.

Overview of the new route:

  • One month leave to enter: invited to undertake pre-arranged fee-paid engagements permitted within this period
  • No formal sponsorship required
  • Engagement to be evidenced by invitation, and to show that it relates to the individual’s expertise and/or qualifications, and main occupation overseas
  • Visa nationals are required to apply for entry clearance (single entry visa issued)
  • No switching into other categories or extensions of leave permitted when in country
  • Must be a genuine visitor and intend to leave after one month

For further information visit:

Home Office main website:

Practics/EU/Education and Culture

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