Testimonial from an Artist, his Translator and Chili Hawes, Director of The October Gallery.

Testimonial from an Artist, his Translator and Chili Hawes, Director of The October Gallery.

An Artist from Beijing and his translator were both refused a visa to attend the Artist’s own Private View at The October Gallery which opened in February 2009.

Since all the visa applications in Beijing must be submitted through Visa Application Center (VAC) not British Embassy, the officer at VAC couldn’t advise us what type of visa we should apply. So based on our previous experiences about visa applications, we chose to apply for a visa as business visitors from a range of “General visitor, Family visitor, Business visitor, Student visitor, Academic visitor, Marriage visitor, Medical treatment visitor, Visitor in transit, Sports visitor and Entertainer visitor”.

The artist and I both have very good visa records on other countries, and have never been refused by any countries. The artist has been to Canada, Australia and Spain in recent years. And I even have a valid visa to US while I applied for UK visa this time and have been in UK for more than two years from 2002-2004. Therefore it’s not normal to be refused by UK this time for our visas.

Referring to the rules of Business Visitors,

Business visitors

Immigration Rules Paragraphs 46G-46L

If you are employed abroad but want to visit the UK for short periods to undertake business related activities you may be eligible to do so as a business visitor. Anyone wishing to visit the UK as a business visitor should:
· be based abroad and not intend to transfer their base to the UK, even temporarily; and
· receive their salary from abroad, although it is acceptable for them to receive reasonable travel and subsistence expenses whilst in the UK; and
· not be involved in selling goods or services direct to members of the public.

Plus, what the refusal letter was said “As you will effectively be engaging in business in the UK, I am not satisfied you are a genuine business visitor. ”

In a word, they are suspicious that the artist will be selling his works during his period in UK. But it is the gallery that sells the works to the public, not the artist. So it’s not right to say that we will be engaging in business in the UK.

Referring to what they mentioned in the letter “However under the UK Immigration Rules artists who are displaying and selling their paintings in the UK must apply for a sponsor’s licence via their UK gallery or representatives in order for them to sponsor you under Tier 2 General of the Points Based System.”, I had a look on “Tier 2 General of the Points Based System” in the website.

It said: “Points Based System Tier 2 (Skilled Worker) (INF 26)
Last updated 26 November 2008

This guidance is for applicants who are resident outside the United Kingdom. It explains what you need to do if you are a highly skilled person wishing to come to the United Kingdom (UK) with a job offer under Tier 2 (Skilled Worker) of the Points Based System. You must have both a sponsor and a valid Certificate of Sponsorship before applying….”

Chili Hawes, Director of The October Gallery states the following: “To be clear, it is the October Gallery who is selling his work not the artist personally. He was coming to be present for his opening and our invitation letter stated this clearly, plus he was to be a guest of the October Gallery for one week, stay with us and eat with us, then return to China….So we wrote to the High Commission in Beijing, stating all this, but the artist did not wish to apply again worrying that he would be refused again.”

The information itself is not clear to visa applicants as the October Gallery was sent the following email by the British Embassy Visa Section in Beijing via email on 30 January 2009: “We have sought further clarification from the London office on new rules. We have noted the information in your e-mail but this does not change it. The applicants do not qualify for a business visit visa. They should apply under Tier 5 Temporary Worker.”