You might be aware that (as of 2018) there were problems for non EU performers trying to enter the UK via the Irish Republic on a Certificate of Sponsorship. Yes? No? Can’t remember? Go and read here, I’ll wait.
Just as a reminder: a non-visa national can enter the UK to work in Tier 5 (Entertainment/Sports) occupations on a Certificate of Sponsorship, without having to convert it into a full visa. Non visa nationals are people from countries like Canada, Australia, Japan, the USA – i.e. those countries outside the EU whose citizens can come to the UK for tourism without getting a visa first.
That problem of entry through Ireland on a CoS (without a full visa) has now been solved (sort of) by a bodge from UKVI. Non-visa nationals can now enter the UK from the Irish Republic providing that they fill in an Entry Clearance form and send it to the UKVI at least three days before their entry to the UK. This will then be returned to them, stamped. They keep this form with their passport and are then perfectly legal to come into the UK to perform without getting any further arrival stamps in their passports when they get to the UK.
The form is downloadable here Entry Clearance through Ireland.
And there’s an explanation here.
Just one small word of warning. If you are transiting through Ireland (i.e. simply changing planes) the above is fine. Just make sure you have your Certificate of Sponsorship and your stamped Entry Clearance form before you travel.
If, however, you are stopping off to spend some time in Ireland before travelling onward to the UK to play gigs, you will need to have your CoS and Entry Clearance form before you land in Ireland. Yes, theoretically, you don’t actually need your CoS until it’s time to enter the UK, but the immigration folks at Dublin airport will want to see your UK CoS (and possibly your Entry Clearance form) before allowing you to land in Ireland. If you are only spending a few days in Ireland before travelling to the UK this is probably not a problem, but if you are spending a significant length of time in Ireland before travelling, you might be forgiven for thinking you have time to get your CoS and Entry Clearance in place while you are in Ireland.
Warning! You don’t. Without a CoS for the UK, they can deny you entry to the Irish Republic, and send you back to wherever you came from on the next flight.
Make sure that whoever is issuing your CoS in the UK knows a) that you are coming in via the Irish Republic, and b) that you need your CoS at least three days in advance of your flight into the Irish Republic in time for you to send off the entry clearance form.
If you’ve travelled in via the Irish Republic before, and simply had your passport stamped in Ireland, with no further questions or red tape, be aware that this has changed. Don’t think that because you’ve done it before, you can do it again.
I had a close call this morning (30th May) because a performer was supposed to be coming into the UK on 6th June. I knew the performer was coming in through Ireland. I didn’t know the performer was arriving in Ireland a week earlier than the UK entry date. The performer had only sent application details to me a few days earlier, and with an entry date of 6th June, I thought we had plenty of time… We didn’t. Luckily the Irish immigration officer called me from the airport on the performer’s behalf, and I was able to provide the paperwork by return email.
Entry through Ireland has all been made infinitely more complicated by Brexit, of course, and once Brexit happens, all bets are off. Watch this space… Things are going to change…