How to Prepare for a Sole Representative Visa Interview
As part of the application process for a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa, you may be asked to attend an interview. Interviews are not carried out for all applications, but they will be if the person assessing your case needs more information before making a decision. In this article, we will explain what you can do to prepare for a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business interview.
Why Are Interviews Carried Out For Sole Representative Visa Applications?
Interviews are carried out to check that the applicant is eligible for a Sole Overseas Representative visa and that their reasons for applying are entirely genuine. The Home Office guidance used by case officers states that they must “be satisfied that the applicant is a genuine representative of an overseas business and must not have reasonable grounds to believe the business decision to establish a UK presence or the business decision to appoint the applicant as their representative has been done mainly so the applicant can apply for entry clearance or permission to stay in the UK”.
A common reason for interviews is when the applicant holds a share in the company they wish to represent in the UK, but this is close (but not necessarily at) the 50% threshold needed for a majority stake. As the immigration guidance states, “As senior employees, it is common for Sole Representative applicants to have some amount of ownership or control of the overseas business. Where this is only a small stake in that business, there will be no reason to doubt the applicant’s eligibility with respect to ownership. If, however, the applicant has a substantial stake in the overseas business, but it is not more than 50%, you may need to consider requesting additional information or undertaking an interview”. As such, if you own less than a half stake in the overseas business, but your share is ‘substantial’, you may be asked to attend an interview to confirm you do not:
- own more than 50% of the shares
- control more than 50% of the voting rights
- be the self-employed owner of that business
- be the sole-proprietor of that business
- be in a partnership agreement in which you own more than 50% of that business
How Can I Prepare For An Interview For A Sole Representative Visa?
Firstly, do not panic if you have been asked to attend an interview for your Sole Representative visa. This is common, and it means that you will have the opportunity to answer any remaining questions the case officer has been unable to ascertain answers.
Secondly, consider engaging Immigration solicitors to help prepare you. This is not essential at this stage, but if you don’t have the time to prepare, this is one way of making sure you can answer the questions asked of you in a thorough manner on the day.
Thirdly, review the eligibility criteria for the Sole Representative visa and make sure you have sufficient evidence to prove that you meet each requirement. The more hard evidence you have with you on the day to show to the case officer, the stronger your case will be. Also, if possible, review the guidance used by case officers to assess applications as this may help you to understand any potential weaknesses in your application. We recommend taking all of the documentation with you, including your application form, laid out clearly and logically, so you can find the information you need during the interview.
And finally, rehearse answers to the type of questions you are likely to be asked.
What Type Of Questions May I Be Asked During My Interview?
The questions you may be asked can be broken down into three broad types:
Questions relating to how ‘genuine’ your application is
You may be asked for more information about the intentions of the business to set up an operation in the UK. This will require you to have a robust knowledge of the business plan and to reassure the case officer that you intend to adhere to it. You may also be asked about the viability of the business you represent, such as whether it is currently operating and whether it is making losses. If there are concerns the business in question is either non-operational or is no longer financially viable, this may raise concerns as to the genuineness of your visa application.
Do You Meet The Eligibility Criteria?
To prove your eligibility during an interview, you may be asked to provide further information regarding:
- Your financial and legal interests in the business, including your shareholding (remember your application will be refused if the Home Office believes you are a majority shareholder). If you have recently divested part of your shares to meet the less than 50% threshold for shareholding, this may lead to suspicion.
- Whether you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family while in the UK
- Whether you meet the English language requirements
- Whether you have the skills, knowledge, and experience to do the job required of you
- Whether the business already has a presence in the UK; for example, it may be that the Home Office has reason to believe the business already has interests in the UK but perhaps under a different legal name or structure.
Do You Meet The ‘Suitability’ Criteria?
If you meet all of the above, if the case officer has concerns regarding previous criminal records or immigration-related offences (e.g. if you have overstayed in the UK or another country in the past), you may be asked questions relating to these matters.
The process of applying for a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa is relatively straightforward, and being asked to attend an interview is no reason for concern. It does mean that you have to prepare, however. The last thing you want to do is add more uncertainty to your case, hence by getting all of the documents ready in an organised folder and rehearsing the answers to the types of questions you are likely to be asked, you can go into the interview with the confidence you meet all of the visa’s requirements.