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UK immigration accused of disrupting concerts

Music promoters have complained that UK immigration is making it harder for international musicians to get visas to work in the UK. They say that the UK's Home Office has refused to issue visas on several occasions to internationally renowned artistes.

This has resulted in the cancellation of concerts. They say that this may well damage London's reputation as a venue for world music concerts.

The New Musical Express, one of the UK's leading music magazines, reports that two Asian groups have had to cancel London concerts because one or more members have been refused leave to enter the UK.

Pakistani jazzman refused entry to UK

In late November 2013, the Pakistani Sachal Jazz Ensemble had to cancel two concerts in the Kings Place venue in King's Cross, London after one of their number was refused entry to the UK. The group played in New York with no problems only a week earlier.

Sachal Jazz are best known for their reworking of Dave Brubeck's jazz classic Take-Five. When Mr Brubeck heard Sachal's version of his most famous work shortly before his death in 2012, he said that it was 'the most interesting and different recording of Take-Five that I have ever heard'.

Music promoter Jay Vivsadeva, who was behind the London visit said 'We are finding it very difficult to obtain visas. Six professional musicians who travel the world constantly should have a clean application. We had no issue with [UK] visas last year. The Border Agency are the culprits. They are heavy-handed, especially with people from the subcontinent'.

Al Kindi barred

In October, the Ensemble Al-Kindi, a Turkish-Syrian group which plays traditional Syrian music was refused entry to the UK because the Home Office refused entry to five of the group. They had been due to play at a concert at the RichMix centre in Shoreditch, East London to celebrate their 30th anniversary in the music business.

Ensemble Al-Kindi's manager, Sabine Chatel, told The Evening Standard, a London newspaper, that she had been told the visas were refused because the Home Office believed that the musicians might not leave the UK if allowed to enter.

Ms Chatel said that Al-Kindi had been granted Schengen visas which allow them to travel throughout the European Union.

Disappointed

Oliver Carruthers of RichMix said 'We know how disappointed everyone will be, especially those who have already bought tickets. It would have been a very exciting show for London which is usually known to be an open, welcoming city for artists.

'What's sad is that their music is part of a long tradition of peaceful exploration of the relationship between people and spirituality - a tradition that is increasingly under threat in Syria.

The Standard reports that Simon Broughton, the editor of Songlines, a magazine dedicated to world music, believes that the problem is getting worse and is threatening the world music scene in the UK.

Great musicians are not getting into the country

Mr Broughton said 'I don't know whether something has changed at the Border Agency but it has become a problem recently. Great musicians who are very well known in their own fields are not getting into the country where there is an audience for them.

'Much of the music is a fantastic way of correcting the image of Islam as sombre and strict but the musicians can't get into the country. It doesn't help the understanding of these cultures.

Entertainer visa

Musicians from outside the EU can perform in the UK with an Entertainer Visitor visa, providing that they are not paid while in the UK. If you are being paid, you can apply for a Tier 5 (Creative and Sporting) temporary work visa.

A Home Office spokesman told the Standard 'All visa applications are considered on their individual merits and in line with immigration rules'.

If you would like to apply for a visa WorkPermit.com can help. WorkPermit.com is a specialist visa consultancy with 25 years of experience dealing with visa applications. We can help with a wide range of visa applications to your country of choice. Please feel free to contact us for further details.