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Overseas musicians denied creative work visas to the UK

The post-Brexit struggle for musicians and creatives to be issued work visas continues to stifle working relations between the UK and the rest of Europe. The latest refusal saw the Ukrainian Khmelnitsky Orchestra unable to perform two upcoming concerts due to key members’ visas being denied, and a German rock band being turned away at Calais.

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    The UK’s post-Brexit readjustment is making it increasingly challenging for overseas musicians to perform in the country. On the 1st of April, a performance by the Ukrainian Khmelnitsky Orchestra was set to kick off its UK tour. But important players, such as the conductor and four first violins, still lacked visas a day earlier.

    They were left waiting for the British consulate to grant visas for a week in Paris. They were informed that they would need to pay €15,000 for urgent visas two days before the tour was scheduled to begin. Another instance of visa refusal was for the German noise rock band Trigger Cut. They managed to convince border officials that they had day jobs unrelated to music last week, but they were turned away at Calais.

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      There was no real reason for the refusal. It was just random discrimination of Ukrainian artists‘ said Chief Executive Jaka Bizilj of Star Entertainment, a music promoter. ‘They made a big deal out of supporting the Ukrainians but when it came to giving them visas to play in the UK, they didn’t want to know.’

      World-class entertainers and musicians travel to the UK, making musicians and performers a treasured and significant part of UK culture. For this reason, the UK provides a special immigration pathway for creative workers. However, after the events of the past month, many overseas musicians are questioning the authenticity of this allegiance.


      According to Bizilj, the scandal has cost the business €100,000 in legal fees, lodging expenses, and brand harm. However, a government spokesperson claims that whenever processing applications is delayed, the Home Office aims to rectify the issue as quickly as possible and identify the cause of the delay to prevent similar issues in the future.

      For the Ukrainian Orchestra, this delay meant the postponement of three of their UK tour dates, and thousands of euros worth of damage control. The event poses the question of whether this abundance of visa refusals are simply a product of a lengthy adjustment period in the post-Brexit UK, or the new normal for creatives wishing to enter the UK on creative work visas.

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