As you know if you subscribe to this blog, one of my functions is as a Home Office licenced sponsor for Tier 5 Certificates of Sponsorship for entertainers and sportspeople.
One of my regular customers (an agent who arranges visas for incoming artists from across the pond) asked me how long Certificates of Sponsorship were taking these days. This is what I replied:
I’ve always say to allow 4 weeks unless you pay for my fast track service and then they can be done within a week.
If I’m not busy I can often do the CoS fairly quickly, but predicting when requests for permits will come through and how many will come through at once, and when, is impossible. Two weeks ago I had none in my in-tray. Last Friday, 21 permit applications from 9 separate promoters/agents dropped into my inbox within the space of a couple of hours. More arrived on Saturday. As of today, Sunday evening, I currently have 24 that I’ve been approached about, but I haven’t received payment and information for some of them yet, and they don’t go into the queue until I get everything. That’s 24 on top of the 20 I did over the weekend.
So the short answer is that any answer I give you today may have changed by tomorrow. For non-fast-track assume between 2 and 4 weeks (any faster is a happy bonus) and for fast-track assume between 2 and 7 days – though I’ll always try to oblige if it’s extra urgent, as I don’t like to see anyone stuck.
As I said above, I did 20 CoS over the weekend, but that involved conscripting my 9-months-pregnant daughter out of her maternity leave for a day, and me pulling an all-nighter to finish them off.
Some CoS applications take longer than others. If the forms are all correct and complete (no missing information, everything ordered just as I request, files labelled correctly, no actual mistakes) it can be done quite quickly. If I have to chase passports, correct information, ask for extra information, rename all the files etc., it takes two or three times as long.
I have seen every conceivable type of mistake on the forms, from people spelling their own name incorrectly, getting their own birthday wrong, missing out information, or putting their date of entry to the country after their first gig date, or their date of departure before the last gig on the tour. One oft-made mistake is an applicant not describing their job fully enough. No matter how many times I say that ‘artiste’ can mean anything from a performance poet to a watercolour painter, I still get people describing what they do as ‘artiste’ – as if that’s going to satisfy the Home Office or the embassy staff when they come to put the application under a microscope – which they will. Some application forms have figures that don’t add up, or they neglect to give the applicant’s full home address and postcode (if their country has one) or the full venue addresses. Sometimes people refer to artists by their stage name which can be confusing because i can only use their passport name – so they label files incorrectly and I get a confusing file for BODVAA which is actually for a person called Abigail SMITH. That type of thing slows everything down, a little bit at a time. Too many of those in one application and you can imagine the effect.
Now, in case you think I’m grumbling, there’s nothing above that can’t be sorted out, but it all takes time. If you want your certificate quickly, the fewer mistakes you make, the faster I can work.