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I'm a musician, and I'll be traveling to the UK in February 2019 to perform. I've done this previously (in 2018) on a Performer Visa. It looks like the regulations have since changed though. While I applied for my Performer Visa ahead of time, it was possible to just show up at the border with the necessary documentation and effectively apply right there. What I see now is that the Performer Visa has been rolled into the Standard Visitor Visa and that, so far as I can tell, one must apply for the SVV ahead of time. Does anyone know if you can get an SVV at the border?

I'll be traveling on a USA passport.

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    Which country's passport do you travel on? – Hanky Panky Nov 26 '18 at 17:07
  • @HankyPanky It makes no difference. – David Richerby Nov 26 '18 at 20:47
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    Regardless of whether the answer turns out to be country-contingent, we expect the full context to be provided in the question. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 27 '18 at 0:27
  • Added. Sorry I forgot to mention in the original post. – Josh Nov 29 '18 at 6:18
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It has never been possible to apply for a visa at the border. Previously, if you were a non-visa national, you could show up at the border and prove you fulfilled the requirements of the Entertainer Visa, and be admitted on that basis. The Entertainer Visa has been rolled into the Standard Visit Visa, and the same is still true. Non-visa nationals can show up to the border and present evidence that they are carrying out "permitted activities".

From the UK government guidance for artists and entertainers:

Non-visa nationals can arrive at the UK border and provide documentary evidence to satisfy the officer that they meet the requirements of the route.

If you are a non-visa national, there is no difference in the evidence required, and the permitted activities between applying for a Standard Visit Visa in advance, and presenting yourself at the border. Hence, if activities were previously covered by an Entertainer Visa, and you are a non-visa national, it is still permissible for you to arrive at the UK border without a visa. You will not technically receive a visa, but this was also the case before the Entertainer Visa was abolished.

As a US passport holder, you're a non-visa national, so you are entitled to prove your suitability for admission at the border, without a visa.

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This UK Government page confirms that the Performer Visa is no longer available, and has been subsumed into the SVV. The same page also describes how to apply for the SVV via a link to another UK webpage. There is no mention of being able to secure the SVV on arrival. Both pages above say the processing time is about three weeks.

I conclude that the SVV is not available at entry.

Whether you need a visa at all will depend on your personal history, and (as Hanky Panky comments above) on what passport(s) you hold.

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You may be able to perform on a Standard visitor visa (which you cannot get at the border), but there are strict guidelines on how and what. At page 3:

The Visit (standard) route is open to:
● Entertainers, artists and musicians who want to:
– give performances as individuals or as part of a group;
– take part in competitions or auditions;
– make personal appearances and take part in promotional activities;
– attend workshops and give talks about their work;
– take part in one or more cultural events or festivals on the list of permit free festivals in Appendix 5 to Appendix V: Immigration Rules for Visitors.

If that doesn't fit, the category would be Tier 5 Temporary Worker - Creative and Sporting visa.

You must apply for a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker - Creative and sporting) visa if:

  • you’ve been offered work in the UK as a sports person or creative worker
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  • you meet the other eligibility requirements

You’ll still need to apply for this visa if you’re travelling to the UK from the Republic of Ireland and you’re from outside the EEA and Switzerland.

A creative worker is someone who works in the creative industry, for example an actor, dancer, musician or film crew member.

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