Sole Representative Visa
A sole representative visa is one of the most suitable routes for businesses to establish a commercial presence in the UK. The route allows opening a UK branch or subsidiary of an overseas parent company which must be a genuine commercial enterprise with its principal place of business outside the UK.
Upon a successful application, the applicant will be granted with an entry clearance of 3 years which can be extended by a further 2 years. The applicant may qualify for indefinite leave to remain in the UK after 5 years of continuous leave under the category.
Types of Sole representative visa
There are two types of job in this category that a person can apply to enter the UK to do. An applicant must either be:
- an overseas media employee who:
- is employed by an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation
- is being posted by their employer on a long-term assignment for them in the UK
- applying to be the sole representative in the UK of an overseas employer who intends to establish a commercial presence by operating a registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of that overseas business in the UK and that branch or subsidiary will operate in the same type of business activity as the overseas business
Requirements for Sole Representative Visa
The sole representative must intend to, and then actually, establish the new branch in the UK. This must be the same type of business as the parent company overseas. For example, it must supply a similar product or service. An overseas manufacturing company can establish a UK branch for the sale or servicing of their products in the UK
Sole representatives must have been employed by the company directly at the point at which initial entry clearance is applied for. The UK Subsidiary can employ a sole rep at a later date however if they are employed in a role which means they no longer have sole executive responsibility for the direction of the subsidiary they will need to switch into a Tier 2 visa route under the points-based system.
- be recruited and employed outside the UK by a company whose headquarters and principal place of business are outside the UK
- have extensive related industry experience and knowledge
- hold a senior position within the company (but not be a major shareholder) and have full authority to make decisions on its behalf
- intend to establish the company’s first commercial presence in the UK, eg a registered branch or a wholly-owned subsidiary
- Meets the English language requirements with at least CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening
A holder of a representative of overseas business visa can apply to bring family members (‘dependants’) to the UK on this visa.
A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:
- Husband, wife or partner
- Child under 18
An applicant must prove they are still:
- required by the employer and the employer must certify this in a letter
- working in the job that entry clearance was granted for: they must show they are in receipt of a salary from their employer by evidence of the salary paid in the previous 12 months and confirmation of how that salary was paid – for example, whether it was paid as basic or commission and the numbers of hours paid
Applicants must not be in breach of immigration laws, except that any periods of overstaying allowed by the Immigration Rules which will be disregarded.
In order to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR), a person must have spent a continuous period of five years in the representative of an overseas business category and must meet certain other requirements, including the Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK requirements, set out in the Immigration Rules.
We have experienced business immigration solicitors, who provide prompt and cost-effective advice to any organisation employing staff from overseas. By making an appointment with one of our business immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. We will assist you with all aspects of business immigration law, including applying for a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa. If you wish to discuss, please phone our London office on 0203 909 8399 or contact us online.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can I switch to a different category?
A sole representative can switch onto a skilled worker visa category if they are still working for the same employer named on their previous application as a sole representative of an overseas business
Can a sole representative be a shareholder?
A majority shareholder in the parent company is not eligible to apply for a sole representative visa.
Does it have to be a product or service-based business?
Current rules do not restrict the nature of business; however, a business needs to demonstrate that the UK has a potential market of their products or services.
Can I still apply if I was a major shareholder in the past?
You can apply for a sole representative visa if you are not a majority shareholder in the business at the time of making an application but holds a senior position and able to make a key decision.
How can I challenge the refusal of my Sole Representative visa application?
You can challenge the refusal of your entry clearance application as a sole representative of overseas business by filing an administrative review of the refusal of the entry clearance application.
Can I switch into sole representative of an overseas business visa from inside the UK?
No, you cannot switch into this category from inside the UK and must apply for entry clearance from outside the UK.
Can I apply for sole representative of an overseas business visa if I have already set up a branch office in the UK?
The Home Office UKVI can admit a sole representative after a branch is established in the UK, as long as that branch:
- exists only as a legal entity
- has set up a bank account
- has identified, and set up, premises
The Home Office UKVI can grant entry clearance to an applicant only where:
- no staff are employed
- the branch has not yet transacted any business
An example might be when the company has set up as a legal entity in advance of the company’s expansion into the UK.