This guest post comes courtesy of Viva La Visa, visa specialists for the music industry.
After seeing The Rock Fairy’s post on Facebook about Skindred’s recent visa troubles, we figured that it was a suitable time to explain the whole visa thing. Skindred are not the first and definitely won’t be the last band to run in to visa-related troubles, but maybe if you read our visa tips run down, you won’t be added to that list.
As a business that works in the ‘least sexy’ sector of the live music industry, our ‘thing’ is being experts in making sure musicians and crew have all of the right legal documentation to work overseas. It sounds boring, but it can literally make or break a career. Getting your paperwork wrong can greatly restrict any future travel plans, and can unnecessarily set you back a lot of money.
Before we get stuck in, let’s go over the basics: a visa is “an authorisation in your passport showing that you are allowed to enter, leave, or stay in a country for a specified period of time.” There are lots of different types of visas for lots of different countries. Before you even agree to travel anywhere you need to make sure that you are 100% clear on what you need to do, and that you can afford to pay for the costs of acquiring that country’s visa.
Visas can come with admin/processing fees, and as it’s such a complicated, confusing but completely crucial process, you could consider enlisting the help of a professional to ensure it’s done correctly (that’s what we do). We’re not saying that you shouldn’t try doing it yourself, but we’d definitely recommend if you have any questions, big or small, you ask somebody who knows the answers. You really don’t want to get this wrong)
Depending on what country you’re going to, what for and for how long, the process differs in every case, but our handy hints and tips will apply to them all. Take notes!
1.) Leave Enough Time
People routinely leave it too late when applying for their visas. Do not leave your visa application process until the last minute! Start your application early; a lot of countries require a work permit/approval to be issued prior to you applying for the visa itself, and it gives you some extra time in case things are delayed for some reason.
2.) Don’t Get the Wrong Visa
You need to be really clear on what you’re going to be doing when you are in any one country and what your visa allows you to do.
The temptation to apply for a tourist visa and play your gigs under the radar to reduce costs might be strong, but you really don’t want to do that. All it takes is a Google search or a quick look on your Facebook to see if you’ve got any dates booked (yes they really do that these days, particularly the US). If they refuse you entry, you get turned around at the border and sent home, plus you’ll find it more difficult in the future to get a visa, and you won’t be able to travel on a tourist visa again. You can then rule out that country for your holidays!
3.) Don’t Lie on the Form
Misrepresentation – lying – is a very clear cut offence. If you ‘misrepresent’ anything on a visa application, then you’re seen to be trying to pull the wool over their eyes. It really is that simple, and it happens a lot. We know from experience that when people are questioned at the border, they’re much more likely to be looked kindly upon if they answer truthfully and appear to be open. We always advise clients that when they go for their visa interview to be as open, straightforward and honest as possible.
4.) Expiry Dates
Keep an eye on your passport expiry date. Some countries require a minimum of 6 months remaining on your passport before they issue a visa.
If you’re planning on playing abroad and need expert advice on the processes involved in getting the right visa, then head to Viva La Visa for more information.