From 6 July 2018, fashion designers have been able to make applications under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) as we covered here. However, the Home Office’s Guidance is fairly vague about which types of fashion designers are eligible to apply under this route. We have therefore explored this further.
The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa
The Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa is for those who are highly skilled individuals in the fields of science, humanities, engineering, the arts and digital technology. As part of this route, applicants must receive an endorsement from the relevant Designated Competent Body in their field confirming that they meet the Exceptional Promise (for potential leaders in the relevant field) or Exceptional Talent (for leaders in the relevant field) criteria.
For those applying as Fashion Designers, the Designated Competent Body is the Arts Council which accepts applications and then transfers them to the British Fashion Council (BFC) for a specialist assessment. Suitable applicants must meet the Exceptional Promise or Exceptional Talent criteria listed in the Guidance, which includes, for instance, demonstrating that they have won or been nominated for at least one international award for excellence.
Types of Fashion Designers applicable for endorsement
There are various types of fashion designers within the fashion industry. For instance, the BFC report on ‘The Value of the UK Fashion Industry’ sets out 10 areas of ‘core fashion design’ which includes ‘Jewellery & watches / Accessories / Cosmetics & perfume / Hair products.’
However, there is no definition of ‘fashion designer’ within the Guidance. The Arts Council’s Eligibility Criteria document sets out that to be applicable for an endorsement as a fashion designer, applicants must be an:
internationally recognised expert in their field within the fashion industry through the operation of leading designer fashion businesses (encompassing relevant technical) as assessed by the British Fashion Council (BFC).’
The new Statement of Changes which we covered here sets out that those applicable for an endorsement must be ‘within the fashion industry and they are involved, or have been involved, in a leading design role within a fashion business.’
More clarity needed
The lack of clarity as to who can be classed as a ‘fashion designer’ has caused some confusion as to which designers are eligible under this route. We have received enquiries regarding whether more specialist designers, such as perfumers, can meet the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) ‘fashion designer’ category for instance.
The closest thing to a list of applicable fashion designers is available from the Arts Council’s ‘Tier 1 Exceptional Talent FAQs’ which sets out that:
Likewise, we have also agreed a memorandum of understanding with the British Fashion Council (BFC), who will assess all applications from fashion designers (including the design of clothing, shoes, accessories and millinery) on our behalf, against the published criteria.’
This list is more restrictive than the 10 areas of core fashion design defined above.
From our initial communication with the Arts Council, we have been informed that, for example, a perfumer may not be considered a fashion designer for the purposes of this application.
However, in our view, there seems little reason why perfumers could not be defined within ‘the relevant technical’ aspect of ‘fashion design’. Perfumers may also meet the required criteria for an endorsement, for instance by demonstrating their exhibitions, and having been nominated or won a major award such as the Fragrance Foundation Award. This is therefore an example of the type of specialism where a robust case for inclusion would need to be set out.
The expansion of the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) scheme to include fashion designers is a sensible recognition of the contribution fashion designers can make to the UK. However, the lack of definition as to who can be considered a fashion designer is frustrating and greater clarity on this subject is required from the Arts Council.
Fashion Designers and Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent): How we can help
Being eligible for the endorsement is only the start of the process. Applicants must then demonstrate that they meet the relevant criteria for Exceptional Talent or Exceptional Promise as well as providing additional supporting documents.
We are experienced in preparing successful Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) endorsement and immigration applications for individuals spanning a range of industries and sectors. We currently maintain a 100% success record.
If you would like to discuss the requirements to be met in order to obtain an endorsement under Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) or need assistance with any other aspect of this application, please contact us.