Applying For A UK Sole Representative Visa From UAE
We are seeing an increasing number of applications from nationals of the UAE who wish to come to the UK as the sole representative of their business/employer. Given the range of business opportunities in the UK and the scale of the market which can be realised, this stands to reason. Indeed, the level of investment from the UAE is expected to skyrocket in the coming years. Mubadala, a major UAE investment fund, is expected to invest around £5bn into British life sciences, health, tech, green energy, and infrastructure over the coming years (they have just agreed to invest £800m).
According to the Financial Times, the investment firm “has interests in clean energy in the UK, including stakes in the London Array, Hywind and Dudgeon wind farms”. If your business is considering setting up an operation in the UK, you will need to secure the necessary immigration permission to send a representative to the UK; the UK’s Sole Representative of an Overseas Business is designed for this precise purpose. In this article, we will explain how to apply for a UK Sole Representative visa from the UAE, including from Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Who Is The UK Sole Representative Visa For?
The UK Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa is principally intended to allow individuals representing an overseas business to come to the UK with a view to setting up either a UK branch or wholly-owned subsidiary. It is also open to employees of overseas newspapers, news agencies, or broadcasting organisations who need to be posted on a long-term assignment to the UK. If the business already has a branch or subsidiary in the UK, and they wish to send employees to work in the UK office, the Intra-company transfer visa would be more suitable.
In some cases, it may be possible to acquire a Sole Representative visa if the overseas business already has a ‘legal entity' in the UK, but (at the time of applying) they must not have any employees or be actively in business.
It is also possible to apply to allow an individual to replace an existing sole representative who has been unable to complete the process of establishing a UK-based branch or subsidiary.
Can I Apply For A UK Sole Representative Visa From The UAE?
Yes, the Sole Representative visa application process (outlined below) can be completed in your home country. Much of the application is now completed online on the UK’s Home Office website, however, you may need to visit your nearest Visa Application Centre (VAC) to have your biometric information scanned (there are VACs in Dubai and Abu Dhabi).
Before applying, however, it is important to check that you are eligible for a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa.
What Are The Eligibility Criteria For A Sole Representative Of An Overseas Business Visa?
Eligible candidates for the Sole Representative visa must:
- Have been recruited and employed outside the UK by an active and trading business. It is important that the business has its headquarters and principal place of business outside of the UK, and this will remain so
- Have the skills, experience, and knowledge to do the role they are required to fulfil when in the UK
- Hold a senior position within the business (but do not own or control the majority of it) and have full authority to make decisions on its behalf
- Be travelling to the UK because the business they represent genuinely intends to establish the overseas business’s first commercial presence in the UK, either as a registered branch or a wholly-owned subsidiary
In addition, applicants need to have sufficient funds to support themselves while in the UK and meet the English language requirement. The English language requirement can be met in a number of ways; either by passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening or by having an academic qualification taught in English (this has to be recognised as equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or Ph.D).
How Do I Apply For A UK Sole Representative Of An Overseas Business From The UAE?
The same application process is followed by all applicants outside of the UK. You will first need to complete the online application form on the Home Office website. As part of the application process, you will be asked to pay a fee of £610 (the application fee), £19.20 to cover the cost of having your biometrics scanned and processed, and the healthcare surcharge. The compulsory healthcare surcharge is currently £624 per year per person and will allow you to access the UK’s National Health Service if you require medical care.
You will also need to provide documents to support your application (the exact documents you need to provide will be explained when you apply based on your circumstances). In addition to your passport, evidence of sufficient funds to support yourself and your family members, and that you meet the English language requirement, you may also be asked for the following:
- 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
You will also be advised how and where you can have your biometrics (photo and fingerprints) taken – this may be at a Visa Application Centre in Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
If granted, you will be permitted to stay in the UK for up to three years (this can be extended for another two years if required). After five years of continuous residence, you will be able to apply for permanent settlement in the UK.
Given to documentation requirements for this visa, it is important to ensure that sufficient information is provided to achieve a successful outcome. If you need any assistance with your visa, or if you need the process to be handled for you, consider engaging the services of an immigration Solicitor with a presence in the UK and the UAE who can do this for you.