Creative Worker Visa (Temporary Work) Guide

creative worker


The Creative Worker visa is for individuals to undertake temporary work in the UK within the creative sector.

In this guide, we explain the requirements of the Creative Worker visa, as well as what this route allows and how to apply.


What is the Creative Worker visa?

If an overseas national has been offered work in the UK as a worker in the creative sector, they will need to obtain a ‘Temporary Work – Creative Worker’ visa. Provided they meet the eligibility requirements, this will give them permission to undertake work in the UK for their sponsor. The sponsor could be an agent, a producer, a promoter or promotion company, a production company, media organisation or an events organiser.

A creative worker is an overseas national who can make a unique contribution to the UK’s rich cultural life, for example, as an entertainer, musician, dancer or actor, and can include any technical and support staff, known as their entourage. The Creative Worker route also includes anyone working as a model, contributing to the UK’s fashion industry.


What does the Creative Worker visa allow?

The Creative Worker visa will allow a sponsored overseas national to undertake work for their UK sponsor. However, certain other activities will be permitted, including a course of study, although an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate may be needed.

A visa-holder can also undertake a second job in the same sector as the work for which they are being sponsored to do in the UK, provided this is at the same level as their main job, or a job on the Skilled Worker shortage occupation list, for up to 20 hours per week. However, they will not be able to start their own business, nor will they be eligible for public funds.


How long does the Creative Worker visa last?

A Creative Work visa will be granted for a maximum of up to 12 months, or the time stated on the applicant’s Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), plus up to 28 days, whichever is shorter.

However, if a non-visa national intends to work in the UK for 3 months or less, they may be able to use the Creative Worker visa concession instead. Provided they do not normally need visa to enter the UK as a visitor, an individual can enter the UK without applying for a visa in advance if they have a valid CoS from an approved sponsor for the Creative Worker route. However, they must still meet the visa eligibility requirements.


Creative Worker visa requirements

To qualify for a Creative Worker visa, or the Creative Worker visa concession, the individual will need to satisfy various eligibility requirements, including:

  • They are genuinely intending, and are able, to do the role for which they are being sponsored, and are not planning to undertake any other employment, except as permitted
  • They must be able to show that they will make a unique contribution to the UK’s labour market, for example, that they are internationally renowned or are required for continuity
  • They must be paid the minimum salary as set by the relevant union, such as Equity, PACT or BECTU, or otherwise commensurate with industry standards
  • They must have a valid CoS from an approved UK sponsor
  • They must have enough money to support themselves in the UK, unless they are exempt.


Under guidance issued by the Home Office in March 2023, anyone intending to travel to the UK under the Creative Worker visa will need to apply for Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to enter the country.


Sponsorship requirement

An applicant for a Creative Worker visa will need to have a valid CoS from an approved sponsor before they can apply to perform or work as a Creative Worker. This is an electronic record confirming the work that the applicant will be doing in the UK and how much they will be paid. To issue a sponsorship certificate for an overseas national to perform or work in dance, theatre, opera, film, television, or as a fashion model, sponsors must follow the specific requirements listed in Appendix Creative Worker Codes of Practice.

Accordingly, the certificate should confirm that the applicant complies with the relevant code of practice, where one exists for their occupation. If there is no code of practice, and unless the role is in a shortage occupation, the sponsor must instead confirm on the certificate that the applicant will not be displacing a suitable settled worker in the UK.

The sponsor can give an applicant a certificate that covers the entire length of their stay, even if they need to perform at more than one engagement. However, there must not be a gap of more than 14 days between each individual engagement, although time spent outside the UK will not be counted towards this 14-day period. If the applicant will be working for more than one sponsor, they can get a certificate from each sponsor, although there must again be no more than 14 days between each individual engagement.


Financial requirement

The applicant must prove they have enough personal savings to support themselves on arrival in the UK. This means that they must have at least £1,270 available in their bank account, and this money must have been available for at least 28 consecutive days, where day 28 must be within 31 days of the date of their application.

The applicant will usually need to provide proof of funds when they apply, unless they are applying from the UK and have already been in the country with a valid visa for at least 12 months. Alternatively, their sponsor can confirm on the sponsorship certificate that they will, if needed, maintain and accommodate the applicant for up to the first month of their employment in the UK for an amount of at least £1,270.


How to apply for a Creative Worker visa

To apply for a Creative Worker visa, the applicant will need to submit an online application using the unique reference number from their sponsorship certificate, where this certificate will only be valid for a period of 3 months from the date it is assigned to them.

Having submitted their online application, the applicant will need to prove their identity and provide a number of supporting documents. The way in which an applicant can do this will depend on where they are from and what type of passport they have. They may be able to prove their identity using the UK Immigration: ID Check app or they may need to attend an in-person appointment to enrol their biometric information.

The applicant will find out if an appointment is needed when they start their visa application. If they are applying from outside the UK and need to attend an appointment, this will be at an overseas visa application centre. If they are applying from within the UK, the appointment will be at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services service point.

However, switching into the Creative Worker route from within the UK is generally not permitted. The only exception is where an individual has, or last had, permission as a visitor, has been in the UK undertaking permitted creative sector activities and was assigned a valid CoS on the Creative Worker route before they entered the UK.


Creative Worker visa supporting documents

When applying for a Creative Worker visa, in addition to having a valid CoS number, the applicant will need to provide various documents in support, including:

  • a valid passport or other document that shows their identity and nationality
  • evidence that they have enough personal savings to support themselves on their arrival in the UK, for example, bank statements, unless their sponsor has confirmed support
  • tuberculosis test results, if they are from a country where they have to take the test.


How much is the Creative Worker visa?

The application fee to apply for a Creative Worker visa is £298, where the fee is the same whether someone is applying from inside or outside the UK. The same fee also applies to the dependants of the principal applicant or primary visa-holder.

The applicant, together with any partner and children, will also each need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge to gain access to the NHS while in the UK.


How long does it take to get a Creative Worker visa?

An applicant can apply for a Creative Worker visa up to 3 months before the day that they are due to start work in the UK. This date will be listed on their sponsorship certificate.

Once the applicant has submitted their application, proved their identity and provided their supporting documentation, either by using the app or attending an appointment, they will usually get a decision on their visa within 3 weeks if they have applied from outside the UK and 8 weeks if they have applied from within the UK. If the applicant is required to attend an appointment, they may be able to pay for a faster decision, but how they do this will depend on whether they are inside or outside the UK when they make their application.


Can dependants apply for a Creative Worker visa?

One of the main benefits of the Creative Worker route is that qualifying dependants of an eligible worker can accompany or join to follow them. This means that the spouse, partner or children under 18 of the principal applicant or primary visa-holder can either apply at the same time or at a later date, although their visa will end at the same time. However, dependants will need to apply separately and meet the eligibility requirements as a dependent spouse, partner or child, including a relationship and financial requirement.

For the spouse or civil partner of an eligible worker, they must show that they are in a marriage or civil partnership that is recognised in the UK, while an unmarried partner must show that they have been living together in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 years at the date of application.

Any partner and children will also need to provide proof that they can support themselves on arrival in the UK. Funds of £285 will be needed for a spouse/partner, £315 for the first dependent child and £200 for any other dependent child, unless they have been in the UK with a valid visa for at least 12 months or, alternatively, the worker’s sponsor agrees to support them financially to at least the same amount(s). Where applicable, these funds will need to be shown in addition to the £1270 funds needed for the eligible worker.


What happens if your Creative Worker visa is refused?

If your application for a Creative Worker visa is refused,

Your next steps will largely depend on why your application was refused. If refusal was due to an error in the application content, you may be able to submit a fresh application rectifying the initial mistake. If you believe the decision was based on caseworker error, you may consider challenging the decision, such as through the administrative review process.

It is recommended to take advice on your options and individual circumstances.


Can a Creative Worker visa be extended?

An overseas national can initially be granted permission for up to 12 months on the Creative Worker route and can apply to extend their stay up to a maximum of 2 years if still working for the same sponsor. However, they must continue to meet the requirements and be in the UK when they apply. They must also apply prior to expiry of their existing visa.

If an applicant is looking to change their UK sponsor, they must make a fresh application. However, changing sponsor does not change how long an overseas national will be permitted to stay in the UK under this route. If the applicant is changing sponsors, they can extend their visa for whichever is the shortest of the time on their certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days or the time needed to extend their stay up to the maximum of 12 months.

The applicant’s spouse, partner and children, if they too are looking to stay longer, will need to apply separately to extend their visa. They can either apply at the same time as the primary visa-holder or at any time before their own visa expires.

Importantly, if an overseas national has used the Creative Worker visa concession to enter the UK, they will not be able to extend their stay beyond the maximum 3-month period.


Does a Creative Worker visa lead to settlement?

The Creative Worker visa is a temporary visa and does not provide a path to settlement. The maximum length of stay on this route is 24 months. However, an overseas national may be eligible to switch to another immigration route, one which will allow them to apply for indefinite leave to remain. This could include, for example, the Skilled Worker visa.


Need assistance?

DavidsonMorris’ specialist UK business immigration lawyers bring substantial experience and recognised expertise in advising employers and workers on UK employment sponsorship under the Creative Worker visa. For specialist application advice, contact us.


Creative Worker Visa FAQs

What is a Creative Worker visa?

A Creative Worker visa will allow an overseas national to undertake work in the UK in the creative sector for their UK sponsor, for example, as a musician, dancer or actor.

What is a Creative Worker?

A creative worker is someone who works in the creative industries, for example, an entertainer or artist. Provided they meet the eligibility requirements, they can apply for a Creative Worker visa to temporarily work in the UK in this capacity.

How do I get a creative work permit in the UK?

To obtain a creative worker permit, an overseas national must make an online application to UK Visas and Immigration, pay the relevant fee, and prove their identity and provide supporting documentation to show that they meet the eligibility requirements.

How can I get entertainment visa?

To get an entertainment visa for the UK, also known as a Creative Worker visa, an applicant must obtain sponsorship from a licensed UK sponsor and apply online using their unique sponsorship certificate reference number.

Last updated: 10 January 2024


Founder and Managing Director Anne Morris is a fully qualified solicitor and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

She is a recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers as a legal expert and delivers Board-level advice on business migration and compliance risk management as well as overseeing the firm’s development of new client propositions and delivery of cost and time efficient processing of applications.

Anne is an active public speaker, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

About DavidsonMorris

As employer solutions lawyers, DavidsonMorris offers a complete and cost-effective capability to meet employers’ needs across UK immigration and employment law, HR and global mobility.

Led by Anne Morris, one of the UK’s preeminent immigration lawyers, and with rankings in The Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, we’re a multi-disciplinary team helping organisations to meet their people objectives, while reducing legal risk and nurturing workforce relations.

Legal Disclaimer

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 at the time of writing, 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.

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