In this guide, we take a detailed look at the UK’s Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) visa, a route for foreign professionals to visit the UK for the purpose of carrying out a work engagement.
What is the permitted paid engagement visa?
The Permitted Paid Engagement (PPE) visa is for experts from visa national countries who have been commissioned or engaged by a UK-based client or organisation to come to the UK on a temporary basis to work without being sponsored. It is effectively a visit visa which permits the holder to carry out their work.
Do you need a visa to visit the UK for a work engagement?
If you’re an overseas national planning to come to the UK on a temporary basis for work, you may need to apply to the Home Office for permission. However, the UK immigration rules can quickly become confusing for visitors, and it’s not always clear who needs a visa and, if so, which type.
Not all overseas nationals need a visa to visit the UK. If you are from a country on the UK’s visa national list, you will need to apply for a visa to visit the UK. If your plans are to visit the UK to carry out work, you may need to look at the Permitted Paid Engagement Visitor visa.
If you are a non-visa national, you can visit the UK for up to a month to carry out your work without needing to apply for a visa. When entering the UK, you will need to get your passport stamped by a border official; you are not allowed to use the passport gates. The border official may ask for proof of your reason for travel. As such, you should ensure that when you travel, you have with you documentation that proves your UK-based engagement and that the work relates directly to your profession, experience and qualifications.
The Home Office also advises that any non-visa nationals with a previous visa or entry refusal, or with a criminal record, may still want to apply for a Permitted Paid Engagement Visitor visa to avoid issues at the border.
What does the PPE visa allow?
Under the PPE visa, you are allowed to stay for up to one month if you have been invited by a UK organisation for any of the following reasons:
- To perform or take part in arts, entertainment or sporting activities
- To take part in fashion modelling assignments
- To undertake ‘minor’ activities relating to your work, eg attend meetings
- To provide legal advocacy services
- As a student examiner or assessor
- To take part in selection panels as a highly qualified academic if you’re invited by an education, arts or research organisation
- To deliver one-off lectures at a higher education institution
- To examine UK-based pilots so they meet the standards of the country you come from if you’re invited by an approved UK training organisation regulated by the UK Civil Aviation Authority
What is not allowed under the PPE visa?
The PPE visa does not allow you to carry out paid-for work that is either outside of the visa conditions or unrelated to your main job or area of expertise in your home country. You also not allowed to study, get married or enter into a civil partnership or access public benefits.
As a short-term visa, the PPE visa also does not allow you to apply for an extension, or to switch into a different visa category while in the UK. You also aren’t allowed to live in the UK with the PPE visa, or use the PPE visa to visit the UK through frequent or successive visits.
Finally, with the PPE visa you cannot be accompanied by dependants without their own visa or permission.
Permitted paid engagement visa requirements
To be eligible for the Permitted Paid Engagement visa, you have to be 18 years or older with the intention of visiting the UK for no more than 1 month. You will need to prove that you have been invited to work in the UK by a UK-based organisation which will be paying you to attend an event or other permitted engagement in line with your profession. You will also need to provide details of the type of work you will be carrying out while in the UK and that the line of work is permissible under the UK visitor rules.
You will need to prove you an support yourself financially while in the UK, and that your return travel can be funded.
Applying for the permitted paid engagement visa
You apply online for the PPE visa on the Home Office website up to 3 months before you plan to travel. The Permitted Paid Engagement visa application costs £115 per application.
You will also be required to attend an appointment at a visa application centre local to you to provide your supporting documents and to prove your identity.
The processing time for PPE Visa applications can vary depending on your nationality and the country you are applying from. However, you should typically expect to receive a decision within 15 working days of submitting your application.
Supporting documents for the permitted paid engagement visa
The supporting documents you need to submit with your PPE Visa application will vary depending on the type of engagement you will be undertaking, but in all cases you will need to provide proof that you have been invited to the UK to perform a specific engagement. This would usually be in the form of an official letter from the organisation or client that is inviting you and will be paying you.
In addition, to support your application as a professional in your field, you should also provide proof of your qualifications and experience. A detailed itinerary of your planned activities should also be submitted, along with proof of that you meet the financial requirements, such as evidence of any financial support.
You will also need to provide your passport or travel document.
Longer-term visas to perform in the UK
The Paid Permitted Engagement visa is one possible immigration route for overseas performers coming to the UK. As it’s only suitable for short-term visits and engagements, you will need to look at alternative routes to stay in the UK for longer. Depending on the nature of the engagement, other visa options could include the Skilled Worker, Creative Worker visa or the Global Talent route.
The Creative Worker visa is a sponsored work route which allows professionals in the creative industries, such as musicians and production crew member, to come to the UK for up to 12 months, with the potential to apply to extend your visa if you remain eligible.
The Skilled Worker visa allows workers with with a job offer in a qualifying role and with an authorised UK sponsor to come to the UK for up to 5 years, with the potential to settle here indefinitely.
The Global Talent route does not require sponsorship by an employer, but you will need to evidence your status as either a leader or potential leader within the fields of either academia, arts and culture or digital technology.
Take advice on your circumstances to ensure you progress with the most appropriate route for your requirements and eligibility.
Tips for visa applicants
Whichever route you apply under, you will need to ensure you meet the eligibility criteria and submit an application that evidences your case to the Home Office. A delayed or even failed visa application means you won’t be able to gain entry into the UK.
Some of the most common issues with applications for performance visas include:
Have the right type of permission
Without the correct type of permission, you risk being refused entry and being unable to fulfil your UK-based commitments.
Check you have the correct type of permission before you travel, whether that is a PPE, a creative worker or the route that is most appropriate for your circumstances.
For example, international artists with UK tour dates cannot enter the UK as visitors if they plan to perform at a series of UK tour dates – this risks entry refusal.
Intention to leave the UK
As a visit visa, the PPE visa requires you to leave the UK at the end of your stay. The Home office will want to see evidence and reassurance that you will leave the UK and return home at the end of your trip.
No special treatment
The UK Home Office processes visa applications from artists, musicians, and celebrities of any kind in the same way as all other visa applications, so it’s best not to expect special consideration or dispensation. You’ll need to follow the rules, just like any other applicant for a UK visa.
Don’t make assumptions
When compiling the application and supporting documents, don’t assume that the Home Office case worker or UK border official will know who you are. You will need to show evidence and documentation like any other traveller that you are eligible and meet the visa requirements.
Allow for processing times
Home Office applications take time to process and you will need to allow for this when making UK-based commitments and engagements.
Even the most straightforward of applications take time to process and can give rise to questions.
Different visas have different processing times, so ensure you are aware of these when making plans and submitting your application.
Be prepared when you travel
Ensure you are carrying documentation with you when you travel that supports your eligibility for the category you are travelling under.
Remember also that even if you enter the UK on a private jet, you will still be subject to border control and you will need to have secured the relevant visa and have proof of your eligibility.
Don’t forget the visas for the entourage, band and crew
Travelling with a party, whether an entourage, crew or other artists, will complicate matters. Each individual will need to make an application. More applications will mean more time.
Considerable logistical challenges usually arise when individuals are making their applications from different locations across the globe. Each applicant will need to attend a visa application centre local to them and passports may need to be surrendered while the Home office processes the application, limiting the ability to travel further.
Criminal record or banned list?
Travellers on the banned list or those with past arrests, conviction or criminal records are advised to take advice on their UK entry options, not least to avoid issues at the border.
Travellers on the Home Office banned list will not be granted entry to the UK. Entry bans usually relate to offensive content and preservation of the public good.
If you are concerned about a ban, before making an application, you should first check if you are on the list. If you are, it may be possible to petition for the ban to be lifted if you can provide grounds to justify removal from the list. For example, it may be that the ban relates to material from many years ago, or was created under a different persona. Petitioning against a ban will require additional time and effort in submitting to the Home Office.
Permitted paid engagement visa FAQs
What is a permitted paid engagement visa?
The permitted paid engagement visa is for individuals with an invitation from a UK-based organisation or client to carry out a short-term paid engagement, such as artists, entertainers and lecturers.
How long does it take to get a permitted paid engagement visa?
Permitted paid engagement visa applications take 3 weeks on average to process.
How to apply for PPE visa UK?
You apply for the PPE visa via the Home Office website, when you also pay the PPE visa application fee. You will then need to schedule an appontment at a visa centre. Applications can be made up to 3 months before your intended date of travel.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.