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Thomas, Solicitor
Category: UK Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 7591
Experience:  BA (Hons), PgDip, Practising Solicitor
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Hello. I am looking to move from New York to London and i have

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Hello. I am looking to move from New York to London and i have 2 careers and am trying to determine what sort of Visa would allow me to continue work in both careers. My family owns a company in the US that also has international branches including in the UK. I helped my parents establish this company and have had a leading role in it for 20 years and will be inheriting ownership but technically I am an employee not an owner as of now. If I wanted to work in the UK in a leadership role within the company, what sort of Visa should I apply for that would also allow me to work in my secondary career which is filmmaking? I attended a film school in London last year and would now like to move to London, work in my family's UK company while also continuing my film work. Please advise.

Does the company already have operations based in the UK?

Do you own more than 10% of the shares in the company based in the UK?

Would you propose to be paid for your filmaking plans?


Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Yes the company already has operations in the UK. My parents own the brand and employ UK citizens already for years who manage it. I currently have no shares of ownership but I helped establish the brand and worked with them to establish the brand all over the world including training the UK managers and I will be inheriting ownership in the future. I am concerned that an intercom pant transfer Visa within our company will not allow me to also continue my film work? While the family business, which is called Total Immersion and Total Immersion UK is my source of income I am also a new filmmaker who thus far has funded my own film productions.

It would be correct to say, then, that your filmnaking would not be "voluntary work"?

If so, would you please confirm how much money you have access to for the purpose of investing in the UK by virtue of your filmaking plans?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I do not understand the question. Investing in the UK? That isn't how filmmaking works for a new filmmaker. I just graduated from London Film Academy last year so I am only at the beginning stages of that career. It's impossible to say how much money I would make at what is an artistic endeavor. It's Total Immersion, the swimming company that is the financial foothold, not filmmaking. I just want to know what sort of Visa I would need to be able to do both? I am not in a position to invest funds but like I said my family owns a UK business that I helped found and it's a prestigious world renowned swimming business.

Thanks for your reply. I needed the clarification.

Drafting your answer now. 5 mins please.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I just want to add that the film school I attended, London Film Academy is an accredited school and I have already invested in shooting a short film in London which I intend to use to get investors to shoot a feature length project next year. That will be an investment of probably $100,000. But that won't happen until after the short film is shopped at festivals etc. In the meantime I want to be sure that if I do an intercompany transfer Visa this year that that won't prevent me from continuing my film work in the future.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I think it's also important to note that Total Immersion, my family's company is not just a company. It's a sports and cultural organization. My father, Terry Laughlin is the world's top expert on swimming technique and has the world's best selling books on swimming technique so not only will I be inheriting a company but because I have worked with my father for 20 years I am also considered a world leading expert in my field. However, we operate independently from the official governing body of the sport of swimming because we are an instructional company for the public and we do not work with Olympic athletes so I can't apply as a sports expert by those rules even though I actually am world leading sports expert in actuality. So does my position as an established expert in that field help my chances of getting a particular type of Visa that would also allow my film work in the event that I do get offered any paid work in film?

Thanks for your patience.

The rules relating to work visas are very restricted at the moment.

The fundamental problem is that each type of work visa restricts the amount of additional work that you can do in addition to the work/job on which you base your visa application.

There is not really a suitable category for yet-to-be established aspiring filmmakers since. The closest possible visa would be a Tier 1 exceptional talent visa:-

For this though, you would need to be allocated an endorsement by one of the four relevant bodies. For filmmaking this would probably mean that you would require an endorsement from the Arts Council. These endorsements are extremely difficult to obtain and you really have to demonstrate that you are either an established exceptional talent or that you are likely to be an exceptional talent. If you have been to film school but have not built up a portfolio then this may be very difficult to get.

However, were you able to obtain this visa the restrictions on work are not considerable and you will see from the following page that working for your parent’s company would not appear to be restricted:-

There is a visa category for visit visas for film crews but I assume this is not applicable at the current time.

This means we have to consider alternative. If the company has a base in the UK then you would likely be eligible either for a Tier 2 General ( visa or – more likely – an intra company transfer Tier 2 visa (

The difficulties with this (as I suspect you have already identified) is that you are not permitted to do paid work other than for your sponsor or within the same sector. You could do a second job but you would need an additional certificate sponsorship for this, which I presume would be difficult given the nature of what you have described you would be doing in your filmmaking role at the moment.

However, you are permitted to do voluntary work. If the initial tasks relating to your filmmaking that you have described are unpaid – ie shopping around at festivals, making contacts, discussing potential plans – then I would fancy your chances at being able to argue that this is a form of voluntary work. However, the moment that you are likely to be paid it would probably cease to be a voluntary job.

You may face further difficulties thought once you have secured funding in principle for your feature length film because, again, there is no category that fits neatly. I presume a tier 1 entrepreneur visa would be the most appropriate:-
However, for this you must have access to above £200, 000.00 for investment which falls below the amount of investment you have anticipated.

So, basically, whilst the filmmaking side of your career is in it’s early stages you would probably be sucesssful in arguing it as being voluntary work and therefore permitted under the Tier 2 categories. As it grows though, it’s likely that you will need an additional certificate of sponsorship or – funding permitted – an Tier 1 entrepreneur visa.

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Kind regards,

Thomas and other UK Immigration Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Well this is pretty much everything that I already knew from reading the UK Border Agency info myself. I was really looking to find out what the loopholes might be considering that my situation with Total Immersion is a very unusual one and we are considered sports and cultural innovators and leaders in our field yet we are not connected at all to the governing bodies of the sport because we are a business that serves the public not elite athletes. So I do not know what governing body would give me the blessing or paperwork or whatever to acknowledge me as an "exceptional talent" within the swimming/triathlon world. I already contacted the head of UK triathlon and as I suspected she said that I don't fit the category. However I am considered a world leader in my field just not in the way that they have designed the category for paperwork. Can anyone advise me on how an alternate "exceptional talent" in an emerging field can apply if I don't fit neatly into their sportsperson category as an athlete or coach?

When I was exploring the exceptional talent route, it was not for the purpose of securing a work visa based on Total Immersion, it was on considering whether or not you could do so for the purpose of getting a work visa for your filmaking career.

The only four bodies that are permitted to give out endorsements are:-
Royal Society
Arts Council England
British Academy
Royal Academy of Engineering

No other body (including UK triathlon) would be able to give you an endorsement under this category.

There is no question that you will be able to secure a work visa for your Total Immersion career, you would because you would be able to apply under Tier 2 ICT or Tier 2 general. Even if one of the 4 bodies were to consider giving you an endorsment they would likely establish that the reason you wish to do this is to avail yourself of the lighter restrictions on other work (so that you can do your filmaking) and that this would not be the most equitable way of deciding who to give endorsements to.

I am sorry.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Well in truth I would not simply be looking to avail myself of the restrictions on other work, ie filmmaking. I take my filmmaking path very seriously as am artist and it is a serious goal of mine to become successful in that career. I just do not know how I will be able to pursue that seriously if I am not able to work in that field. I need to figure out how to phrase the application to that it is very clear that my intentions are serious as an artist with GREAT aspirations of success and not just looking to avail myself of Visa restrictions from Tier 2.


I appreciate what you say, but I don't really have anything else to add.

Many people are frustrated by the rigidness of the immigration rules, this is because they do not exist to serve the requirements of applicants. Instead they are there to maximise the value the migrants to the UK economy without burderning it.

Sometimes the immigration rules produce the desired results, sometimes (as here in my opinon) they don't.

I am sorry.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ok. Doesn't sound very promising which is extremely disappointing as I have been in a 6 year long distance relationship with someone in London so I really need to figure out how to make it work.


Do you intend to marry (or as civil partner) person in London?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

There are no current plans to marry. Part of the reason for wanting to move to London is to figure out the relationship by living in the same city to make a decision about whether to commit or to let it go. These types of decisions cannot be made long distance so I want to move there go give it a go but no decision will be made about that until after I move there and give it some time so I cannot rely on the relationship for a Visa. I need to get a Visa on my own for work in order to support the relationship not Vice Versa. So no, there is no current intention for that as of yet.


Yes, that's entirely understandable.

You could, I suppose, secure Tier 2 ICT and attempt to carry out your filmaking tasks on the basis that they are "voluntary work" in the short term until you have reached a decision on whether to marry.

If you were to decide to marry, you could do so, then switch to a spouse visa. This would mean that you could carry out both your Immersion work and your filmaking work without any kind of restriction.

Kind regards,

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Carrying on with voluntary film work until a decision to marry is reached isn't a viable option. Firstly because its a same sex relationship and second because I just can't rely on something so unpredictable as that to determine my ability to pursue my career seriously. This all sounds pretty bleak and ridiculously rigid considering that I have the potential to bring a lot to the UK economy and arts if I have the freedom to exercise my abilities, so I will hire an immigration lawyer and see what I can do. Thank you.


I wish you the best of luck with it.

Same sex partners have the same immigration rights as married couples, it's just that instead of being based on marriage the application is based on being civil partners for which you would need to carry out a civil partnership obviously.

You can also get a - de facto - spouse visa as an unmarried couple. For this generally you have to show that you have lived together and been in a relationship akin to marriage for two years. Obviously, you have not actually lived togetyher for that period of time. Discretion is allowed in this area though, so were you to move to the UK on a tier 2 ict and live with your partner for a period of time (ie. one year) then this together with yoru evidence of your prior relationship might be enough to categorise you as unmarried partner's before you actually reach the two years living together requirement.

Kind regards,


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your time, Tom.

Much appreciated.



You're welcome, Fiona.

Again, I really do hope things work out for you.

Kind regards,

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

PS. There is no current intention for us to live together. Bottom line is that I do not want to put myself in a position where I am relying on the relationship for my ability to work on my career because if the relationship doesn't work out then I will really be in a bad spot. So 'civil partnership' is not yet part of the equation as a possibility. It might become a possibility but the whole point of getting the Visa and moving to London is to explore that. We aren't going to live together until after I live and work in London and establish myself over there in my own career independent of the relationship which sounds virtually impossible. But I think I have exhausted all the possible advice you have to offer me so I will sign off now. Thanks again.



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