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UK Sole Representative of an Overseas Business

A UK Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa is for companies who wish to locate a senior employee in order to establish a branch or wholly-owned subsidiary in the UK.

Who is regarded as a Sole Representative for an overseas business?

A sole representative for the purposes of the visa application is an employee who has been recruited by an overseas company in a senior role.

The employee in question must have a track record of setting up branches or subsidiaries for other businesses, or have the authority to negotiate and take operational decisions in setting up a new branch or subsidiary in the UK.

What are the main requirements for a UK Sole Representative visa?

  • The employee must be applying to be the Sole Representative of an overseas business in the UK as a senior employee in order to establish and supervise a registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of that overseas business in the UK;
  • The employee must have been recruited and employed outside of the UK by the business they intend to represent;
  • The employee must intend to work full-time as a representative of that overseas business only;
  • The business must have, and intend to continue to have its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK;
  • The business must have no other active branch, subsidiary or representative in the UK;
  • The employee must not be a majority owner of the business, or otherwise own or control the overseas business;
  • The employee must have the ‘skills, experience and knowledge’ of the business necessary to undertake the role;
  • The employee must have full authority to negotiate and take operational decisions on behalf of the overseas business for the purpose of representing it in the UK;
  • The employee must satisfy the minimum English language Level A1 (‘CEFR’) in speaking and listening; and
  • The employee will be required to show that they can maintain and accommodate themselves in the UK without recourse to public funds.

Can a senior employee own or control a stake in the business?

Although, it is common for senior employees to have some amount of ownership or control of the overseas business, the ownership or control of the business cannot be more than a 50% stake in the business.

As part of the application, the company’s share distribution list for both the current and the previous year will have to be provided to establish the shareholding history of the company.

How long is the visa granted for?

If the application is approved, the employee will be initially granted 3 years to enter and remain in the UK.

After the completion of the 3 years period, the employee will need to submit a further application for leave to remain, which would be valid for 2 years.

At the time of the extension application, the employee will need to establish that they have established the parent company’s first presence in the UK, and there is still a need to be working for the same company in the UK.

Can the UK Sole Representative of an Overseas Business route lead to settlement in the UK?

Sole representative visa holders can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’) in the UK after completing 5 years in the UK.

Dependents of sole representatives may also be eligible to apply for settlement after completing 5 years in the UK.

Can your dependent family members accompany or join in the UK?

The UK Sole Representative visa route allows dependent family members to accompany the main applicant or join the main applicant if they’re already in the UK.

Can you switch into the UK Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa route?

If you are in the UK on another immigration route, you are permitted to ‘switch’ (change route) to the UK Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa route if you meet all the relevant immigration requirements and are not in the UK on any of the following routes:

  • Visitor
  • Short-term student
  • Parent of a Child Student
  • Seasonal Worker
  • Domestic Worker in a Private Household
  • Outside the Immigration Rules

Can the company bring other employees from outside of the UK to come and work for the UK based company?

Once the company’s branch or subsidiary is operational in the UK, the company would be required to obtain a UKVI Sponsor Licence in order to be able to bring further employees to work for the UK based company under the skilled worker route or the Intra-Company Transfer (‘ICT’) routes.

How we can help?

Our business immigration specialists at Cartwright King Solicitors have substantial experience and knowledge in advising both employers and prospective employees in relation to UK Sole Representative of Overseas Business visa applications.

If you or your business require further advice in relation to a UK Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa, please contact our business immigration solicitor, Mr Mohammed Hafejee, or complete your details below and one of our lawyers from our business Immigration team will contact you.

Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.