As you already know if you follow this blog, I process Tier 5 UK Certificates of Sponsorship (the equivalent of electronic work permits) for performers coming to sing, play dance or act in the UK from outside the EU. (I can also process certificates for sportspeople, too.)
There’s a charge for this, of course, because I not only have to pay a fee to the government for a) each certificate and b) my licence to issue certificates, but I also have to take on legal responsibility for the artists I sponsor and therefore I have to do a lot of checking (of artists and venues) and a considerable amount of very careful form-filling.
In the past few months a small number of regular promoters who employ me to process certificates for artists have been leaving it until the last minute… and I do mean the last minute… and expecting that I will be able to perform a minor miracle. This has necessitated losing sleep, losing my weekends and – most important – losing family time.
I’m not saying that I will be refusing to do last minute certificates, however, to encourage people to send forms and payment to me in a timely manner I will be charging a premium rate for fast-tracking any certificates required within 7 days
If you’ve left it until the last minute expect to pay an additional £100 for a group application and £50 for a soloist’s application.
Since the rules changed in 2008 I have done almost 800 Certificates of Sponsorship for performers, and very few leave it until the last minute, however it has become a problem specific to just a few.
Sometimes it goes like this:
<Phone Rings, Sunday evening at 6.00>
PHONE: Hello do you do certificates of sponsorship for Mexicans?
ME: I do certificates of sponsorship for any performers from outside the EU, so yes, that includes Mexicans.
PHONE: How long does it take?
ME: Well, I ask that you get all the paperwork to me about four weeks before you need the certificate, but I can do them more quickly in an emergency. When do you need them for?
ME: You mean your performers are already in transit?
PHONE: Errr, they’re in the holding pen at Heathrow and about to be sent back to Mexico if I can’t get certificates for them within the hour.
This is not a made-up story. It really happened. Names have been withheld to protect the… errr… organisationally challenged. And yes, I did manage to issue the certificates in time, though not quite within the hour, but the Immigration people kindly gave an extension once they knew it was in hand. However it meant I had to ignore visiting family and work on Sunday evening.
I’ve also had to do certificates for Americans who were in transit and arriving the following morning and for Africans whose visa applications were due right NOW! or they stood a good chance of not getting them back in time.
Though some of these late applications were genuine mistakes (The Mexicans hadn’t checked and didn’t even know they needed certificates of sponsorship!) many of the delays are due to people not wanting to pay until the very last minute, i.e. until they perceive that they really REALLY have to. So from October 2015, these are the prices. They will only rise when the government puts its prices up.
Good reasons for getting your Certificate of Sponsorship in a timely manner
- Your peace of mind.
- My stress levels.
- On occasions the Government web site has been malfunctioning and it has not been possible to issue certificates. If this happens over a weekend of a bank holiday there could be a delay of 3 – 4 days.
- Other performers may be in the queue before you and need their certificates equally urgently. I’m only one person. There’s a limit to how fast I can type.
- When I check your application I may need clarification of some information or more details.
- When I attend conferences I am unavailable for between three days and a week. Usually I am not checking email while I’m away because – hey – I’m busy with other things. Besides if I’m not in the office I don’t have access to make the applications.
- The office is always closed for a full week in September, so if you hit this week I won’t be able to help you.
So thank you to all those people who send their applications to me four weeks before they need their certificates. Score bonus points if you’ve followed my guidelines, typed rather than handwritten your forms, sent me clear copies of the documents I require and filled in every box, remembering to include your post or zipcode with your home address. Add extra bonus points if all the information you’ve typed on the application form is correct.