The Home Office has introduced an exciting new visa route for fashion designers. Since 6 July, non-European Economic Area migrants have been able to apply for endorsement as exceptionally talented fashion designers.  Alternatively, migrants can apply for endorsement as budding fashion designers demonstrating exceptional promise.  The British Fashion Council (BFC) makes the endorsement decision.

The criteria for the exceptional talent category are more difficult to meet than those for exceptional promise, but the former category affords migrants eligibility to settle in the UK after 3 years, whilst migrants under the latter category require 5 years. In either case, successful applicants for endorsement by the BFC then apply to the Home Office for a visa.

Endorsement criteria are stringent. Applicants must be producing outstanding work. Exceptional talent applicants’ work must be sold or exhibited internationally. Exceptional promise applicants’ work must be recognised by leading industry players. Applicants must be recently and regularly engaged as fashion designers. They must demonstrate success in at least one or more countries, depending on whether they are exceptional promise or exceptional talent applicants respectively.

Proof of talent or promise that the BFC will consider includes international media recognition, industry awards and support, catwalk shows and international distribution through luxury retailers. Three letters of support from reputable fashion entities are required.

At the visa application stage, the Home Office will review applicants’ immigration and criminal histories.

If the process seems stringent, that is because it is. However, fashion designer visa applicants are not required to demonstrate English language ability or that they have sufficient funds to maintain and accommodate themselves as is required under other visa routes such as the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route.

The rewards are significant. A successful fashion designer visa applicant has very few restrictions on the work that they can undertake in the UK. However, in order to extend a fashion designer visa or settle in the UK, they will have to demonstrate that they have earned money working in the fashion sector. Also, applicants do have to demonstrate English language ability and also pass a test on ‘Life in the UK’ to be eligible for settlement.

The EmployLaw immigration team is delighted to offer support to migrants interested in the new fashion designer visa.

If you require any professional advice on this matter, please do call us today where one of our Immigration Solicitors would be delighted to take your call. 01483 411533!