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Representative of an overseas business frequently asked questions (FAQ)

You might be eligible to make an application for entry into the United Kingdom as a Sole Representative of an Overseas Firm if the firm has the intention to organize and begin business operations in the United Kingdom.
You may be permitted to enter the United Kingdom under this category without the sponsorship of a United Kingdom Employer as a Tier 2 Skilled worker.You will however be required to demonstrate that you intend to enter the United Kingdom as a Sole Representative of an Foreign firm so as to set-up a Branch or a child company for the foreign parent company that does not have a branch or run a daughter company in the United Kingdom. More so, the parent company will be required to prove that the firm has been operating for past years and also evince ways in which the business’ operations in the United Kingdom will be of benefit to the firm as well as the economy of the United Kingdom. You are expected to be an employee of the parent company who has been conferred with the authority and responsibility to set-up the Daughter branch as well as manage operations of the United Kingdom Branch
Your entry clearance application as a sole rep migrant will be issued for 2 years; after which you are able to make an application for extension in line with the immigration rules pertaining to the Representative of an overseas business visa category.
As with other immigration categories, the Home Office are constantly changing the immigration rules in line with government policy as well as present realities. It is therefore important that you continue to seek legal advice on how the current rules or change in rules as the case may be would affect you.
For your firm to qualify to send a Sole Representative to the United Kingdom the firm is expected to be an enterprise of genuine existence. In a situation where the firm is not up to One year in existence, it is likely to be seen as an inappropriate sponsor for the Sole Representative category and as such might not be considered. More so, the budget that should be allocated for setting-up the United Kingdom branch should be realistic in relation to the size, business operations and profit because it is expected that sending a Sole Representative should primarily benefit the company. In order to avoid being disputed against, it is expected that the purpose for which you intend to expand into the United Kingdom be related to the business operations that you are involved in abroad and not diversification into other business operations. The greater part of your business operations should be carried out in the branch abroad while regular branch operations occurs in the United Kingdom. If it is observed that you sending the Sole Representative will lead to shifting majority of your business operations to the United Kingdom with the intension of making the UK your Head Office, your application will not be accepted.  
To be qualified as a Sole Representative to the United Kingdom you are required to:
  • Be a senior staff of the overseas company employed abroad.
  • Have the relevant experience and knowledge as it concern the company, its business operations and procedures; or show evidence of relevant knowledge and suitability of the business if you are a new employee recruited to run the United Kingdom entity.
  • Have the relevant qualification, experience and knowledge required for the running of business operations even if the business is a family business and the Sole Representative is a junior family member.
  • Not own more that 30-35% of either the overseas business or the new United Kingdom establishment because the Sole Representative visa was not designed for majority business owners.
  • Pass health examination to ensure you do not have any critical health condition.
You will normally be granted entry clearance for two years on the success of your application after which you are permitted to extend for a further three years. The application for extension will be done while you are still in the United Kingdom but you will be required to submit your passport to the UKBA while your application is evaluated. In addition to the application for extension made, you will be required to also make the following available:
  • Evidence that your employer still requires you to be their Sole Representative;
  • Record of the first year of business operations and production in the United Kingdom.
  • Evidence that you earned the appropriate salary pertaining to your status as Branch Head of the subordinate company.
If you have been granted extension and your service is still required by your employer, you are authorized to make an application for Indefinite Leave of Remain (ILR) (Permanent Residence) towards the conclusion of your five year stay.
In a situation where your application is not complex, it would likely be processed within at most 10 working days by the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) at the British Consular office abroad. On the other hand, if your application is a complex one (i.e. cases that require extremely thorough and careful investigations), the application will be sent back to the UKBA office in the United Kingdom. It might take several months for an application in such situation to be processed.  
A Sole Representative migrant is not authorized to function as an Agent. He/she is expected to fully involved in setting-up Office in the United Kingdom on behalf of the Holding/Parent Company Overseas. More so, the Sole representative is not authorized to take up job with or act on behalf of another company whilst in the United Kingdom.
If you are a Sole Representative your might be authorized to make an application for your spouse and/or children as dependants who will come along with you to the UK. Whilst in the United Kingdom, your children who are with you as dependant will be eligible to be educated for free as other British children. You might be permitted to seek admission for your children in a private education institution of your choice. Also your spouse is authorized to take up legitimate employment while with you in the UK. More so, you and your dependants are authorized to receive free medical treatments from the National Health Service of the UK as you do not need to have a private health insurance cover.
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