From October 2019, policy regarding Letter of Recommendation has changed. Now an applicant for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa in Digital Technology must have three docs called “Letter of Recommendation”. Not just two like before. However, some immigration lawyers think that this change will positively influence the whole ecosystem. But I have been in your shoes. I know how big a headache you have now. So let’s clarify the main points about the letter of recommendation (additionally to formal requirements). What main steps you need to do and how to get it.
Find The Right Person
Regularly I get a question about how to find a person to sign a Letter of Recommendation. And every time I say – it is not an easy task! I wrote a big post about the topic. At the same time, the main idea of this stage is clear. Think about your professional network and shortlist the brightest people within it.
Brainstorm your recent contacts. They need to be up to six months old. And additionally, try to clarify for yourself who of the people may be ready to give you a Letter of Recommendation. This task is mainly not about drafting text or doing any other research. It is about trust in you.
This means the person must trust you and believe in your talent and vice versa – you must be sure 100 % that your signee is the responsible and right person to be related with your Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa application.
Check Eligibility Of The Person
Imagine that you get 5 – 10 most interesting candidates for signing your recommendation letter. What to do next? Now it is exact time to check their eligibility. In other words, not to waste your and the person’s time – you must carefully find the proof that:
- A person is a senior member of an established national or international organisation in the digital technology sector.
- This expert works at the C-suite level. For example, the Chief Executive, Chief Operating Officer, Finance Director or Head of Course or similar position.
- Your referee is preferably based in the United Kingdom. However, it can live somewhere else. But the company or person must be well-known in the UK market.
If you tick all three boxes of the requirements mentioned above – that’s completely great! But there are also a couple of important moments to remember:
- you cannot ask three managers of the same company about the Letters of Recommendation. Tech Nation Visa Guidelines is quite good at this point. It says: “Three letters of recommendation from three different recognised experts who are familiar with your work and contribution to the digital technology sector
- You must double-check the person who will recommend you in terms of involvement in scandals and any reputational risks. The Endorsement Panel will consider the calibre and reputation of your chosen references.
- In the ideal case, the person has to know your expertise and contribution to the tech community. It does not matter – local or global level. You cannot ask the HR agency about this letter. For example, your CV is not a good basis for this. Or if a consultant, agent or outsourcer will give you a Letter of Recommendation. There are the same irrelevancy and a lack of link. In most cases, they are not considered appropriate.
Initial Contact About The Deal
I am sure you have a personal relationship with a person, who will give you a letter of recommendation. Hence, in general, you do not need any help. Just write a mail or message on LinkedIn or AngelList regarding this point.
However, sometimes, even knowing an expert for a long time, it is not easy. We are not completely free to contact them in an unofficial manner. It might impossible to write an informal mail. Or something like: “Hi, let’s catch up on Tuesday, I need your help to approve my talents :)”.
In this case, it is better to write an introduction. In other words, this is a message that will explain how this person can help you. It will be easier to find how this person will positively change your life. I decided to make your task a little bit easier. Hence, here you can find three samples of request for Letter of Recommendation in Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa application.
Draft of Letter of Recommendation
It is almost impossible to find a free example of a Letter of Recommendation. And if you are curious why – I can explain. In all cases, this letter is based on a very intimate and personal relationship. This link must exist between two people. One person – the referee, who provides a letter. The second person is an applicant for Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa. That’s it.
All the letters of recommendation contain the answers for the next 8 questions:
- How the recognised expert knows you (by relationship or reputation)?
- What are your achievements in the specialist field?
- Why are you are a leader, or demonstrate significant potential, in your field? Think not from your own point of view but someone else.
- What details of your previous work (quantitive data or objective information) may support your profile?
- What impact does your contribution have?
- How you would benefit from living in the UK?
- What contribution you would make to the UK digital technology sector?
- What professional engagements in the UK are you expecting?
Drafting a Letter of Recommendation
If answering questions does not help you – try a different method.
For example, you can draft a Letter of Recommendation (for instance, based on this sample or this example). Instead of for your signee.
Just write a paragraph on each of the following topics:
- Introduction of a person who signs the Letter
- Existing relationship with a person (you know each other in person or reputationally via other people)
- Field of expertise as a basis for recommending you as an expert and talent.
- Your projects that clearly support the idea that you are a talent or a promise
- Details about your most promising projects and their overall influence (with numbers and relevant data)
- Your life in the UK as a source of future professional growth
- Your life in the UK as a reason for positive changes in the technological ecosystem of the UK
- Details about your long-term plans for job, place to live and to work.
- Contact details of a person
Full explanation about each paragraph and how to make a good draft letter of recommendation is provided here.
And, surely, add a CV or resume of the referee.
Using this method you have to write nine paragraphs. Please, write from the third person. In other words, imagine you are in the shoes of a person who will sign your Letter of Recommendation. Imagine that you are an expert who is assessing you :). I know this is a bit tricky task. But you must provide a draft of this document for a person who will recommend you. It will be a great support to that person.
But even if these questions do not help – stay calm. You can shed a light on the sample text of the Letter of Recommendation.
Format and content of the letter
There is no strict requirements about the length, number of pages and words in the Letter of Recommendation.
In general, it seems to be a fair requirement to have a Letter of Recommendation up to two pages (or one double-sided A4 page). At the same time, if your referee will write a masterpiece about you on three pages – do not worry. It is still fine. The main point – it has to be good text with precise facts about you as an exceptional talent or exceptional promise.
I must also highlight one more thing. Answers on the questions listed above are not enough. Also, the expert must clearly write a paragraph or two about himself/herself and provide full contact details.
Additionally, you must provide details of the author’s credentials (for example, a CV/resume). If your signee is Elon Mask, it is not required to write about his full professional journey :).
But in other cases – it is better to copy-paste bio from the company’s webpage. Or, you can make a brief from the LinkedIn profile. In any case, Tech Nation reserves the right to refuse your application. Or request more information, which could significantly delay your application.
However, it will happen only when the evidence is not provided. And when they think that the author is a credible referee.
Essential details about Letter of Recommendation
Finally, below I provide at least three of the answers for questions that appeared in my head. I was looking for a person for nine months. I ask many people to help me with writing such a letter.
Shall it be only on headed paper?
In most cases, yes. So you must do your best to receive such recommendation letters on a special paper. It has to be with clear identification of your signer’s company or organisation. However, your signee can give you a letter on plain A4 paper. In other words, the headed paper is not a strict rule.
However, this exception concerns only exceptional cases. For example, when you receive such a letter from C-suite managers of international companies like KPMG, Microsoft, Alibaba or similar. The internal compliance of such companies may not permit them to sign such kind of letters on headed paper.
Additionally, here you can find more information about electronic signature.
Title of a Signee
Can I send a recommendation letter from the receptionist / Junior QA / HR at Google (IBM, Apple, etc.)?
I suggest this recommendation paper would be a nice addendum to your supporting documents. Sure, if you will not overreach the limit of 10 supporting docs. Some of my recommendations I have added as a supporting document. But it will not work for a recommendation letter.
Even if this letter is on headed paper from a well-known organisation. You should not breach this link between the highest level of management of the company and formal requirements. Headed paper is just one of them.
Special, not General
May I use a recommendation letter that CEO from Twitter (Uber, Petiole, etc.) gave me during my internship at their company last summer?
No, it also can be a supporting document. But a recommendation letter is not a simple correspondence. There is the only purpose of its existence. The letter must support your Global Talent Visa (UK Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa) application.
It has to be in a clear format and style. Its content has to tell about you. Particularly, in terms of your expertise. Either a talent or a promise – nothing more.
Finally, as Guidelines say:
The letter should not be a general all-purpose reference letterTech Nation Visa Guide
Hence, be precise when choosing a letter. It will influence the result that you will get from the Tech Nation.
Talent Visa Help has been created for informational purpose and is not an official guidance for Global Talent Visa (Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa) application.
Talent Visa Help should not be used as a substitute for the official Tech Nation Guideline or Home Office Guideline. Talent Visa Help is NOT linked either with Tech Nation or Home Office. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the texts belong solely to the authors at Talent Visa Help. The contents of Talent Visa Help do not constitute legal advice and authors accept no liability for the accuracy of information provided. Applicants should always consult the official governmental guidance and seek professional immigration advice where appropriate.
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