Organist deported – problems with visas continue

In spite of the Manifesto Club’s victory in winning reforms to the visa system for visiting artists, it seems that the news hasn’t reached border officials on the ground.

Under the permitted paid engagement route artists visiting the UK for a concert or talk are exempt from the heavy-handed ‘points-based visa system’.

Yet the star organist Cameron Carpenter – booked to play in Birmingham – was detained for seven hours in an ‘Orwellian’ ordeal, before being deported back to Berlin. Once he found out about the new visa route he was able to return to the UK – with only a short detention this time – and eventually arrived in Birmingham just in time for the concert.

He said in a statement: ‘HM Immigration in Birmingham were totally unaware of the laws governing Permitted Paid Engagement – the three words artists entering the UK really need to know… Knowing my rights…I landed in Berlin, took a shower and flew to Heathrow.’

This case shows that the route really helps artist visitors – but that a lot more needs to be done, both to advertise it publicly, and most importantly, to inform border employees about the law so deportations like this never happen again.

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