Representatives of Overseas Businesses
If you are a senior employee of an overseas business that is seeking to establish a commercial presence in the UK, you may qualify to live and work in the UK as a sole representative of an overseas business.
Initial applications: UK sole representative visa
In order to qualify for a sole representative visa for the UK, you will need to show that:
- You are a senior employee of a business which has its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK; and
- The company has no branch, subsidiary or other representative in the UK; and
- You have full authority to take operational decisions on behalf of the business; and
- The branch or subsidiary in the UK will carry out the same business activities as the overseas business; and
- You do not intend to take any other employment whilst in the UK; and
- You hold less than 50% of the shares in the overseas business; and
- You are able to maintain and accommodate yourself adequately without the need to rely on public funds; and
- You are able to speak and understand English to a required standard.
A sole representative is regarded by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) as a person who has worked for the overseas company for some time and holds a senior position. If you have recently been employed by the overseas company, UK Visas and Immigration will expect to see that you have held a senior role previously and, if relevant to your job description, that you have a good track record of establishing companies.
UK Visas and Immigration will assess whether the overseas parent company is a genuine commercial enterprise, taking into consideration its turnover (in order to show that the parent company is actively trading), its registered office (which must be outside the UK) and the type of business (which must be the same as the intended business in the UK). UKVI will also assess your work arrangements for the UK, having regard to your contract of employment, job description, business plans and any other documents submitted which are relevant to the operation of the business.
Extension applications: UK sole representative visa
In order to extend your stay in the UK as a sole representative of an overseas business, you will need to show that:
- The overseas business still has its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK; and
- You are employed full time as a representative of that overseas business and have established and are in charge of its registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary; and
- You are still required for the employment in question, as certified by your employer, and do not intend to take any other employment.
Settlement applications: UK sole representative visa
In order to qualify for indefinite leave to remain in the UK as a sole representative of an overseas business, you will need to show that:
- You have spent a continuous period of 5 years lawfully in the UK as the sole representative of an overseas business; and
- You have not spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any of the five consecutive 12 calendar month periods preceding the date of application and provide specified documents to evidence the reasons for the absences, which must be in connection with the employment or for a serious or compelling reason; and
- You met the requirements for an extension of stay throughout the 5 year period; and
- You are still required for the employment in question, as certified by your employer; and
- You have demonstrated sufficient knowledge of the English language and life in the UK.
For advice and assistance with an application for entry clearance, extension of stay or settlement as the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business, please contact our immigration solicitors in London.