Celebrity & Law: African Celebrities Who Work Without Permits In USA, UK & Other Countries Face Arrest, Imprisonment & Deportation

John Dumelo

When it comes to the law, mistake as to the law has never been an excuse. The burden therefore lies on individuals seeking to operate under the law to find out what the law actually states at any point in time.

The principle of ‘equality before the law’ also demands that, all persons should be subjected and be treated equally before the law—including celebrities.

Even if one wishes to invoke Sir Ivor Jennings criticism of A.V Dicey’s ‘equality before the law’ by saying, among equals there should be equality, I am certain work permit requirement for celebrities do not fall within this scope.

Increasingly, African celebrities (especially actors/actresses and musicians) have been travelling abroad to work without the necessary work permit, forgetting or ignoring the problems they may face if caught.

Work permit as we all know is a generic term for a legal authorization which allows a person to take employment. A non-citizen of a country usually requires permission to work in that country and this is what most of our African celebrities are failing to do.

Flying into any country (especially the western countries) on a visit visa and sneaking around to shoot a music video, a movie, perform or engage in paid club/event appearance is illegal as this is classified as work under immigration rules.

If paid work must be done, then work permit is required…

It may seem easy to cheat the system by acquiring a visitor visa and sneak around to work but have any of these celebrities ever thought about what will happen if they get injured or the unfortunate happens while working?

The law does not tolerate illegal enterprises which harms those within that enterprise when they knew or ought to know of the illegality. This means if a non-work permit celebrity is cheated, injured or becomes a victim of a crime whiles working, the person may not be able or find it difficult to bring in the law to help with recovery.

From the above, is working without work permit by our celebrities worth it?

Apart from the fact that a celebrity limits his/her rights under the law when he/she decides to work illegally in a country (without a work permit), such a celebrity can also be arrested and even detained for breaching immigration rules if caught.

The upshot of such an arrest is ginormous—the said celebrity can be banned from further visits, existing visa cancelled and be deported. If the celebrity has any sort of brand, this can go a long way to taint it.

The funny and inane part of the whole African celebrities working without work permits in foreign lands is how they publicise their work in these countries even though they do not have permits to work there.

This is where good management and PR team has to come in

Shooting a movie in USA/UK without the required work permit and tweeting photos or putting them on instagram for the whole world to see is not only stupid but total disregard for the laws of that country…

If Naomi Watts & Nicole Kidman had to fight for working visas to work in United States, what does that tell our ‘tiny’ celebrities?

Nicole Evangeline Lilly known as Kate Austen in the ABC television drama Lost-from 2004 to 2010 has stated multiple times that she almost lost her part in Lost because of working permit issues (visa approval).

If the bigwigs are chasing the necessary work permits because of the unpardonable repercussion, what makes our not so shinning African stars think they can breach the law?

About a year ago, Ghanaian musician-Kwaw Kesse was detained and deported from London Heathrow Airport when he attempted to enter UK without a work permit, intending to perform (work) out there.  Even if nothing at all, was the embarrassment not enough for our celebrities to learn?


Law & Celebrity is a column on GhanaCelebrities.Com which focuses on how the law affects our celebrities, their lifestyles, new media, entertainment, etc.

Chris-Vincent Agyapong Febiri, who will be looking at these issues holds a degree in Law (LLB), Diploma in Para Legal and also has extensive knowledge and interest in celebrity lifestyle & social media.


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