Sole Rep of an Overseas Business Visa: Initial Application
The UK Home Office introduced the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business pathway for individuals who intend to establish a subsidiary or branch of an overseas business within the United Kingdom. Any individual who is sent to the UK on behalf of an overseas company on a long-term assignment or to establish a subsidiary/branch may be eligible for a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa. Please note that official entry-clearance must be granted before traveling to the UK – applications must therefore be submitted from outside the United Kingdom.
In order to qualify, the individual must be able to demonstrate that their overseas employer does not have any other subsidiaries, branches or representatives in the UK at the time.
The Representative of an Overseas Business visa – also referred to as a Sole Rep visa – can lead to permanent legal settlement in the United Kingdom after five years’ continuous leave. The individual travelling to the United Kingdom under the Sole Rep visa scheme is able to bring dependants with them (children, spouses etc), in accordance with official Home Office guidelines. In addition, dependants who accompany Sole Reps during their stay in the United Kingdom are able to study and work with no applicable restrictions. They can also gain access to free healthcare on the NHS.
Please note that it is forbidden for an overseas business to base more than one representative in the United Kingdom at any one time under the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business pathway. While the applicant resides and works in the United Kingdom under the scheme, the business will not be permitted to send any other representatives into the country. As the business is based overseas, there is no requirement to obtain a Sponsor License to send a representative accordingly.
It’s also important to note that prospective entrepreneurs planning to set up new businesses within the United Kingdom do not qualify for entry under the Sole Rep pathway. Instead, such individuals should apply for entry clearance under the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa program. Qualification under the Sole Rep scheme is dependent on the business being a registered and recognised overseas entity with no current operations in the United Kingdom.
For more information on which visa scheme is most appropriate for your requirements and to discuss your case in more detail, contact the immigration experts at Aristone Solicitors today.
Sole Rep Visa Scheme Applicant Eligibility
In order to qualify under the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business pathway, the individual representing the overseas business must meet the following requirements:
- They must be a formal employee of the business based overseas, which is sending them to the United Kingdom for a long-term assignment of some kind.
- The employee must have been initially recruited by the company overseas, as opposed to from within the EEA.
- The worker must be in an advanced management position with the organisation, authorised to make important decisions on behalf of the company without seeking additional permissions.
- The applicant must be a full-time employee and intend to enter and work in the United Kingdom as the only overseas representative of the business.
- The sole representative is not allowed to own a majority stake in the overseas business – different immigration rules apply for entrepreneurs and business owners.
- The applicant must be able to provide evidence of sufficient means (maintenance) to cover their costs and those of their dependants throughout their leave.
- The sole representative must meet minimum English language requirements and provide appropriate evidence accordingly.
- It is advantageous for the applicant to have performed similar duties in other countries and have a positive track record as a sole representative.
For more information or to discuss your eligibility in more detail, book your obligation-free consultation with Aristone Solicitors today.
Overseas Parent Company Eligibility
In order for the overseas parent company to meet official Home Office requirements for the Sole Rep visa scheme, it must fulfil the following criteria:
- The HQ (or head office) of the organisation is outside the EEA and will remain outside for the duration of the project.
- The company does not operate any subsidiaries or branches in the UK, nor does it currently have any representatives stationed in the country.
- The intention of the company must be to register its first ever subsidiary/office as the core aim of the project.
- The business must have been operational for a minimum of one year and be a genuine, credible and legitimate overseas entity.
Contact the business immigration team at Aristone Solicitors if unsure as to the eligibility or otherwise of your overseas business.
Please note that in all instances, a sole representative is strictly forbidden from pursuing or taking part in any other employment activities within the UK for the duration of their stay.
One of the biggest advantages of the Sole Rep visa scheme is that there is no requirement for the applicant to provide evidence of sufficient funds available to finance the project itself. Instead, it is assumed that their employer will cover all such costs. However, it is essential that the applicant is able to provide evidence of sufficient funds to cover their own costs for the duration of their stay, along with those of any dependants they bring with them to the United Kingdom.
Qualification for an initial Sole Rep visa or an extension of an existing period of leave may be affected by the applicant’s income at the time. Their employer may be required to provide sufficient documentation and financial records of its financial position and stability, in order to verify its capacity to finance the applicant’s stay under the Sole Rep scheme.
Length of Leave to Remain
Where a Sole Rep visa application is successful, the vast majority of entrants are granted a period of 3 years leave to remain. After which, they will have the opportunity to apply for an extension, assuming they have complied with all applicable rules and regulations for the duration of their stay.
The most important requirement when applying for an extension is the provision of evidence that a UK subsidiary or branch has been successfully established and remains in business at the time of the application. Formal documentation must be provided by way of tax returns, invoices, contracts, company accounts and so on.
Should the applicant wish to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, they must first spend a minimum of five consecutive years in the United Kingdom. During which time, there are important restrictions on the amount of time they can spend abroad during any calendar year.
Additional Terms and Conditions
All individuals granted entry to the United Kingdom under the Sole Rep scheme are subject to several mandatory terms and conditions, including but not limited to the following:
- The individual may work or study for the duration of their stay, but exclusively as the sole rep of the business they represent.
- Their employer must be based outside the United Kingdom and remain based outside the UK for the duration of their stay.
- The individual must not attempt to claim benefits to support themselves financially at any time during their stay.
- The applicant may be required to provide evidence of sufficient English language skills, or a degree-level qualification or higher taught in English.
Please note that there is currently no allowance whatsoever for individuals already in the United Kingdom under a different pathway to switch to a Sole Rep visa. Applications must be submitted from overseas, meaning that an individual already in the UK looking to switch to a Sole Reop visa will first have to leave the United Kingdom to apply.
In addition, evidence must be provided that they were not recruited by the overseas employer while residing/working in the UK.
For individuals and employers interested in exploring business opportunities in the UK for the first time, the Sole Rep visa pathway could prove ideal. What’s more, just as long as your case is genuine and you are to be the only representative of your employer in the UK, it can be a relatively straightforward application process.
Once again, we strongly advise speaking to a trained legal adviser ahead of time, in order to determine which pathway best suits your requirements.
Sole Rep Visa Lawyers in Luton
Here at Aristone Solicitors, our experience and expertise extend to all aspects or Sole Rep visa applications, extensions and appeals where unsuccessful. Whether planning to send a representative to the UK for the first time or working as a representative and unsure of your eligibility, we can help.
Contact a member of our business immigration team today to book your obligation-free consultation.