Post-Brexit Immigration Policy: Foreign Musicians Could be Required to Earn a £30,000 Salary — Or No Entry Into the UK

The British music industry isn’t happy with a new post-Brexit immigration proposal.

The British music industry has lashed out over a newly published white paper outlining the country’s plans for a new post-Brexit immigration policy.

According to the Government Migration Advisory Committee, musicians and other workers will need to earn a minimum of £30,000 (around $38,000) to apply for a five-year visa.  This will allow them to work in the UK.  The new policy wouldn’t go into effect until December 31st, 2020.

The move, according to the British government, will help the country prioritize higher-skill workers.  The skills-based immigration system “favors experience and talent over nationality.”  Workers from the European Union would no longer have a special exemption to immigration policy changes.  Britain would treat the EU the same as every other country.

People from “low-risk” countries – both in the EU and others – can visit the country for one year and work.  They won’t need a job offer.  Yet, to settle in the country, they’ll have to meet the minimum salary requirement.

It’s unclear how this will impact touring artists, though the government white paper appears to allow short-term paid performances.  “Visitors coming to the UK for short-term business reasons will be able, as now, to carry out a wide range of activities, including permitted paid engagements,” the paper explains. 

“We will discuss with stakeholders whether these arrangements can be improved to reflect business need.”

Despite the likely exclusion, foreign artists may simply avoid touring the post-Brexit UK until entry requirements become better understood.  In the absence of clear entry rules, artists could suffer serious scheduling delays and complications.

In a statement, UK Music lambasted the new initiative, stating most musicians and music creators don’t meet the salary requirement.

Requiring musicians, songwriters and producers from the EU to earn salaries of at least £30,000 to work in the UK poses a major threat to the music industry where music creators earn on average £20,504 ($25,979), way below the average for other jobs.

UK Music added the country’s cultural industries “may suffer retaliation from EU member states.”  This includes “extra costs and red tape for artists who need to cross borders for their work.”

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) also slammed the white paper.  Chief Executive Deborah Annetts warned,

The end of freedom of movement will have a devastating impact on British musicians.  The introduction of harsher immigration rules after Brexit will cause declining diversity and creativity in the British music industry.  It could also potentially lead to the introduction of reciprocal immigration rules by EU countries.

Additional policies outlined in the white paper, Annetts continued, “would be insufficient for musicians and the creative industries.”

UK Music has also called for British lawmakers to introduce a post-Brexit “touring passport” or a visa waiver.

CEO Michael Dugher said the UK music industry contributes £4.5 billion ($5.7 billion) to the British economy.  Live music alone contributes around £1 billion ($1.3 billion).

As we’ve made repeatedly clear, a crude salaries and skills approach to freedom to work post-Brexit just doesn’t work for so many artists and musicians.

We risk limiting the ability for European musicians to play in our world-leading festivals, venues, and studios.”

Should the British government fail to listen, they “risk making it very hard, if not impossible, for so many UK artists to tour in EU.”

This is how they build an audience and frankly make any kind of living from music.

It is frustrating in the extreme that there are still some people in government who have their fingers in their ears.  This is utterly clueless.  It’s vital that we don’t pull the rug from under Britain’s world-leading music industry.

Unveiling the white paper yesterday, Home Secretary Sajid Javid proudly hailed,

Today’s proposals are the biggest change to our immigration system in a generation.  We are taking a skills-based approach to ensure we can attract the brightest and best migrants to the UK.

These measures will boost our economy and benefit the British people.