The Sole Representative Visa is an immigration route designed for individuals who are either looking to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary or register a UK branch for an overseas parent company.
Contact our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or complete our enquiry form to discuss your Sole Representative Visa.
The Representative of an Overseas Business Visa is for individuals who are looking to establish a new wholly-owned subsidiary or register a UK branch of an overseas parent company. It is also the appropriate route for individuals who have been posted by an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation on a long-term assignment to the UK.
The Representative of an Overseas Business Visa was previously referred to as the “Sole Representative of an Overseas Business Visa”. The term “Sole Representative Visa” is a popular shorter term used to refer to this immigration category.
A major consideration with this immigration route is that the applicant must have been recruited outside the UK by an overseas company whose principal place of business is not in the UK.
Applicants must meet a set of eligibility criteria as outlined in detail below. If granted, a partner and spouse visa is initially granted for up to 3 years and 9 months. It is then possible to extend your stay for a further 2 years and later acquire Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), allowing you to remain permanently in the UK without being subject to immigration rules.
UK Sole Representative Visa applicants need to meet a number of requirements; specifically, applicants must:
To make a successful application for a Sole Representative Visa, it is important to understand each of the requirements. While the Home Office publish a summary of the requirements, these are extremely general. Below we will explain each of the requirements for a Sole Representative Visa in detail.
To ensure that your application for a Sole Representative Visa is processed efficiently and quickly, consider speaking to one of our expert immigration law Solicitors by calling us on 020 3744 2797, who can advise you on the process and handle this on your behalf if you prefer.
As an applicant for a Sole Representative Visa, no other representatives of the overseas business must be residing in the UK 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 within the country.
If the current sole representative of your overseas employer is due to end their role in the UK, you may be able to apply for a Sole Representative Visa to replace them.
Only senior employees can apply under the Representative of an Overseas Business Visa route. This is because the visa route requires the sole representative to have the full authority to make top-level business decisions for the company. It is considered an advantage for the sole representative to have held a similar role in another country and/or is familiar with best practices in a wide variety of working environments.
Applicants for a Sole Representative Visa must be able to show they have the skills necessary to perform their intended function in the UK. As a person coming to the UK to establish a new subsidiary or branch, for example, it may be necessary to possess skills in the areas of contract negotiation, sales, commercial markets, and logistics. A letter will be required from the applicant’s employer confirming the candidate has the necessary skills and experience needed.
Sole representatives cannot be majority shareholders in the overseas company. The rules state that applicants must not:
UKVI must be satisfied that the applicant is a genuine representative of an overseas business. This also means that there should be no grounds to believe that the overseas business’s 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”.
The overseas business does not need to show any strong financial standings to make a Sole Representative Visa application for any of their senior employees, neither does the sole representative need to have or provide any financial resources for the establishment of the UK branch while making their application. It is expected that the parent company will fund such activities. The sole 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. As such, UKVI must be satisfied that applicants are able to maintain and accommodate themselves and their dependants in the UK without access to public funds; however, there is no specified amount of money that an applicant must have available.
Applicants for a Sole Representative Visa must have the necessary English language skills. There are 3 ways this can be proven:
(1). Passing an English language test
You will meet the English language requirements if you pass a Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) English test from an approved testing centre. This must be at least level A1 in speaking and writing.
(2). Academic qualifications
You will also meet the English language requirements if you have a degree or other academic qualification which was taught in English.
You will not need to meet the English language requirements if you are exempt, including if:
If you are granted a Representative of an Overseas Business Visa, you will be able to:
The immigration rules state that as a Representative of an Overseas Business Visa holder, you will not be permitted to:
When applying for a Sole Representative visa, you will need to provide several documents to prove both your personal suitability and that the overseas company meets the requirements outlined above. UKVI will explain which documents you will need to provide based on your circumstances; these may include:
If applying as an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation, you will be required to provide:
The application process for a Representative of an Overseas Business Visa is completed online (on the Home Office website). The application steps are as follows:
After the initial period of 3 years, it is possible to extend a Representative of an Overseas Business Visa for a further 2 years. You will need to meet the following requirements:
You can apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) 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 while your principal place of business is still overseas.
To qualify for settlement under the sole rep route, the following requirements must be met:
GOV.UK: Representative of an Overseas Business Visa
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