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Representative of an overseas business Visa

The representative of an overseas business is an immigration route is designed for individuals who are either looking to set up a wholly owned subsidiary or register a UK branch for an overseas parent company. It is also the appropriate route for individuals who have been posted by their employer on a long-term assignment to the UK as an overseas.

The Representative of an overseas business route used to be called the Sole Representative of an overseas business. The term Sole Rep Visa is still a popular term used to refer to the Representative of an overseas business visa category.

A major consideration with this immigration route is that the sole rep (migrant) must have been recruited outside the UK by an overseas company whose principal place of business is not in the UK.

See our dedicated page on frequently asked questions relating to the representative of an overseas business UK visa.

Entry Clearance as a Representative of an overseas Business

You will be able to make an entry clearance application as a Representative of an overseas business if you are:-

  • The Representative of an overseas business looking to set up a wholly owned subsidiary or register a UK branch for an overseas parent company; or
  • An employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation who is being posted on a long-term assignment as a representative of your overseas employer.
  • Recruited from outside the UK by a company whose principal place of business outside the UK.

Importantly, the representative (of the overseas business) would not be able to take on any additional employment. S/He will only be able to work for the overseas based company that recruited him/her.

The requirements for the Sole Representative visa depend on whether the entry clearance application as a representative is as a representative of an overseas parent company, or as a representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation.

Representative of an Overseas parent company

Please note that you will not be eligible to apply under this route if you are a majority shareholder of the overseas company. Only senior employees are allowed to apply under this route. This is because the sole rep visa route requires that the sole rep should have full authority to make top level business decisions for the company and would not only be able to accept responsibilities for decisions taking, they would not always need to revert to the headquarters every time a decision is to be made.

It is also important that no other representative (of the overseas business) is currently resident in the UK as at the time of the application. The company must have had no branch, subsidiary or any individual presence in the UK prior to making the application. An exception to this is where the company is registered in the UK but does not currently employ any staff or transact business.

Where you are coming to replace a sole rep who has just left the country before the he UK branch or subsidiary has found premises or started to trade, the UKBA may allow you to come to the UK as a replacement sole representative.

The sole rep would also need to meet maintenance and English language requirements.

We would consider it an advantage for the sole rep to have held a similar role in another country and/or is familiar with best practices around the world.

Representative of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation.

You can apply for a visa as an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation if you are being posted in the UK on a long-term assignment as a representative of your overseas employer.

Financial requirements

The overseas business do not need to show any strong financial standings to make a Sole rep visa application for any of their senior employees; neither does the sole rep need to have or provide any financial resource for the establishment of the UK branch while making an application. It is expected that the parent company will fund such activities. The role rep however, would need to show that they are able to take care of themselves while in the UK by meeting the general maintenance requirements.

Length of Leave

If the Representative of an Overseas business visa is successful, the applicant will normally be granted a leave for about 2 years where the leave was granted on or after October 1st 2009; or for three years, where the leave was granted before the 1st October 2009. The application will be able to make an extension application at the expiration of the initial grant of leave.

Refusal of Entry Clearance into the UK as a Representative of an Overseas Business

If your visa to enter the UK as a Sole Rep is refused, you will be able to challenge the decision by making an appeal to the First Tier Tribunal. You should endeavour to file the appeal within 28 days the date on the refusal letter.

Sole Rep Of An Overseas Business Extension Application

You will be able to apply for an extension of a representative of an overseas business visa if your last leave was granted as a representative of an overseas business.

The Sole rep application form is the FLR (BUS) and the applicant must evidence that they continue to meet the requirements in the initial application and their sponsoring company (the overseas business) is still happy to keep them employed in the overseas branch.

Requirements for Extension

  • You are in the UK with a valid entry clearance as a sole rep of an overseas business.
  • The company's headquarters and principal business place remains outside the UK.
  • You are still employed and actively involved full time as the sole rep and you have been able to establish a branch or subsidiary in the UK and you currently oversea that branch.
  • Your employer will have to certify that you are still needed for the job.
  • You have met the maintenance and accommodation requirements as per the immigration rules.

It is important to note that media and/or publishing houses are allowed to have more than one representatives in the UK as long the applicants (representatives) are journalists, news cameramen, or front of camera personnel..

It would be wise to include evidence of the above requirements as supporting documents in your extension application.

An advantage of this route is that the Sole is able to remain in the UK even if the circumstances of parent company has changed; as long as they have been in the UK for more than 2 years.

Length of leave - Sole Rep Extension

Generally, the length of leave under this visa category is 2 years (after the initial application which is for 3 years). However, you may be eligible for a 3 year leave to remain if your last leave was issued before October 1st 2009.

Sole Rep Of An Overseas Business Indefinite Leave To Remain

You can apply for an Indefinite Leave to remain in the UK if your last leave to remain is as a representative of an overseas business and/or as an overseas media or sole representative. It is important that you have and continue to meet all the conditions and requirements for your current leave to remain (as a Representative of an overseas business). For example, you must have and still be trading and your principal place of business is still overseas.

If you are looking to apply for an ILR under the sole rep route and your current leave to remain is as a representative of an overseas media, you will need to submit an ILR application using the application form SET (BUS). Where your current leave is as a representative of an overseas media house (journalists, journalists, news cameramen, or front of camera personnel), you will need to making an application for settlement using the SET (O) application form.

Requirements for Settlement

To qualify for settlement under the sole rep route, you must meet for following requirements

  • Continuous residence in the UK for a period of 5 years as under the Representative of an overseas business immigration category.
  • You have claimed any benefits in the UK nor have had recourse to public funds
  • You have remained employed throughout the period. You will need to evidence this using P60s ad payslips for the past 5 years.
  • The headquarters of the company or the principal place of business is still based overseas.
  • You must have established a branch or wholly owned subsidiary in the UK and have generated business
  • Your employer is able to certify that they still need you for the job in which you are currently employed and you are paid higher or at the appropriate salary required for the job.
  • Meet the English language requirement.

Representative of an overseas business lawyers

Our business immigration lawyers boast of over 30 years experience in business immigration law and are able to assist you with you application. Should you have any questions or want to make an application under this route, feel free to contact us today. We offer a free initial consultation over the phone. Call us now on the number at the top of this page.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

The sole representative of an overseas business is not known as Representative of an overseas business. This route may be necessary for those who either a) intend to set up a wholly owned subsidiary or register a UK branch for an overseas parent company or b) were posted by their employer on a long-term assignment in the UK as an overseas media employee employed by an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation.

The qualifying period for settlement as the sole representative of an overseas company or overseas media employee is 5 years.

– You must be recruited and employed outside the UK by the employer whose intention is for you to represent them in the UK;
– Your intend to work full-time for the organisation and must not intend to take any other employment;
– You must be based mainly in the UK and working on a UK long-term assignment;
– You must meet the maintenance requirement;
– You must meet the English language requirement;
– Applicants are usually journalists, but may be other employees, for example: producers, news cameramen, front-of-camera personnel.
An overseas media company can have more than one representative in the UK at the same time.

  • You must be able to demonstrate that you have extensive related industry experience and knowledge;
  • You must have been recruited and employed outside the UK by a company whose headquarters and principal place of business is outside the UK;
  • You must hold a senior position with that overseas company (but not be a major shareholder) and have full authority to take operational decisions on the company’s behalf;
  • You must show that you intend to establish the company’s first commercial presence in the UK, namely, a registered branch or a wholly owned subsidiary;
  • The company must have no branch, subsidiary or other representative in the UK;
  • You must not intend to take employment in the UK except for the overseas company;
  • You must meet the maintenance requirement;
  • You must meet the English language requirement.
  • You only intend to work for the same employer in the same job as their entry clearance was granted for;
  • You must meet the maintenance requirement;
  • You must prove you are still: a) required by the employer; b) working in the job that entry clearance was granted for; c) in receipt of a salary from your employer, evidenced by demonstrating the salary paid in the previous 12 months and confirmation of how that salary was paid.
You need to show the following: -
  • You only intend to work for the same employer in the same job as their entry clearance was granted for;
  • You intend to work full-time for the employer as a representative of an overseas business;
  • Your employer’s principal place of business is still outside the UK;
  • You must meet the maintenance requirement;
  • You must prove you are still: a)continue as a senior employee with full authority to take operational decisions; b) in receipt of a salary from their employer by providing evidence of the salary paid in the previous 12 months and confirmation of how that salary was paid; c)you are still needed by the employer;
  • You must prove that you established and are in charge of a branch or subsidiary in the same type of activity as the parent company and provide evidence confirming that you have generated business, principally with firms in the UK, on behalf of your employer since entry to the UK;
  • You are allowed to remain outside of the UK for a maximum of 180 days in any calendar year;
  • You can bring dependents with you, namely, your spouse or partner and children under 18;
  • Your dependents have limited work and study restrictions;
  • You can stay in the UK if your company’s circumstances change and you have been here for more than 2 years;
  • You are not required to have access to a set amount of funds.
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