What Documents are Needed for a Sole Representative Visa?
As we put Brexit behind us and tentatively emerge from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a considerable amount of economic and business optimism in the UK. According to KPMG’s UK Economic Outlook, the economy is expected to grow here by 6.6% and 5.4% in 2022; “Following a contraction of nearly 10% last year, we see annual GDP growth at 6.6% in 2021 and 5.4% in 2022. This will push the level of GDP back above its pre-COVID level in 2022Q1. We expect the recovery to be driven by a bounce-back in consumption as the economy reopens and households catch up on some of their postponed spendings. Government consumption also grows strongly this year, with health and education activities returning to more normal levels”. As a result of this strong economic rebound, it is expected that more overseas businesses without an existing presence here will consider setting up a new branch or subsidiary. To carry out the necessary work to do so, foreign businesses can nominate an overseas representative to come to the UK. In this article, we will explain the purpose of the UK’s Representative of an Overseas Business visa, who is eligible, and the documents needed by the Home Office when applying.
Who is the Representative of an Overseas Business visa for?
The Representative of an Overseas Business visa is used to enable one person representing a foreign business to come to the UK with a view to setting up a new branch or subsidiary. It is also widely used by overseas media companies, posting individuals to the UK on a long-term basis. Those who secure a Representative of an Overseas Business visa are typically permitted to stay for up to three years initially, and this can be extended for a further two years (assuming the overseas Representative continues to meet the eligibility criteria). The Representative of an Overseas Business visa also offers a route to Indefinite Leave to Remain (i.e. permanent residency) after living in the UK for five years.
What are the eligibility criteria for a Representative of an Overseas Business visa?
The eligibility criteria for the Representative of an Overseas Business visa are relatively straightforward. Applicants must:
- have sufficient funds to support themselves
- meet the English language requirement (CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening)
- be recruited and employed outside the UK by an active and trading business – the head office and main place of trading must remain outside the UK
- have the skills, experience, and knowledge needed for the sole representative role
- be a senior member of the sending organisation with full authority to make key decisions regarding setting up a new branch or subsidiary in the UK
- Not be a majority share owner of the sending organisation
The foreign entity must genuinely be sending the sole Representative to establish their first commercial presence in the UK, either as a registered branch or a wholly-owned subsidiary.
If a sole representative is currently in the UK on behalf of an overseas organisation, a new person can be nominated to replace them.
What documents are required to prove eligibility for a Representative of an Overseas Business visa?
When making your application for a Sole Representative visa, the Home Office will explain which documents need to be provided to prove eligibility; these may include:
- your current passport or other valid travel identification
- evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependants during your trip – this is typically proven by providing six months of bank statements
- proof that you meet the English requirement – i.e., your language exam pass certificate
- details of where you’ll be staying during your stay – i.e., rental agreement, hotel booking.
- tuberculosis test results (this only applies if you are from a country where you have to take the test)
- a full description of the business’s activities, including details of assets and accounts
- a letter confirming the overseas business will set up a wholly-owned subsidiary or register a branch in the UK in the same business activity as it runs overseas
- your job description, employment contract, and salary details
- a letter confirming you’re familiar with the business and have the power to make operational decisions
- Evidence that you are directly employed by the business and are not acting as a sales agent (i.e. an employment contract showing your direct employment by the sending organisation) and that you were recruited to the business outside the UK
- Evidence you hold a senior position in the business, with authority to make decisions on its behalf and set up and run a registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary (i.e., a letter from your employer)
- Evidence you will be working full time for the business or subsidiary for the duration of your stay and will not carry out any other work
- Evidence that you do not own or control a majority of the overseas business (i.e., a copy of your shareholding/certificate).
If applying as a sole representative of a media (i.e., news, newspaper, or broadcasting) organisation, you will need to provide with your application:
- a full description of the parent company’s activities, including details of assets and accounts
- confirmation that you will be representing them in the UK in a long-term full-time role
It is important to take the time to provide all the documents required and to ensure that each is current, properly translated, and contains the information requested. If you are unsure if you have all the correspondence needed by the Home Office, speak to an immigration Solicitor in the UK, who can review your application and accompanying documents to verify they are complete before the final submission.
When applying for a Sole Representative visa, the Home Office will be most interested in whether there is a genuine intention to set up a UK operation, that the overseas business is legitimate and trading, and that the person coming to the UK has the authority to fully represent their employer. By providing the correct documentation upfront with your application, you can be confident of receiving a positive decision in the shortest possible time.