English PEN has welcomed the government's announcement of a new visa for visiting writers and artists, which will enable them to visit the UK for short periods for paid work
Home secretary Teresa May MP has created a new category, "permitted paid engagements", for visiting professionals who will be undertaking specific fee-paid activities for up to one month, without the need for formal sponsorship by a UK-based employer.
It will come into effect from 6th April 2012, and will mean host organisations will also no longer have to pay for a license to sponsorwhile the visiting artist will now be allowed to be paid for activities during their visit.
May said the move was in response to feedback that "sponsorship requirements in the points based system can be unduly onerous and inflexible in some circumstances". She said beneficies could include authors undertaking book-signings as well as entertainers, lecturers and examiners. "They will have to demonstrate they intend to leave the UK after a month," she said.
English PEN trustee and novelist Kamila Shamsie said: "We welcome this new scheme, which plugs a gap in the visa system that left artists adrift and alienated. We hope that it will encourage publishers, galleries and other institutions to commission more international work, and invite more artists to the UK."
She added: "However, it is essential that the new scheme is applied fairly. We urge the UK Border agency to ensure that all its personnel understand the new route, and that they treat both visa nationals and non-visa nationals equally."