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The Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa category is for businesses that wish to send a senior employee to the UK in order to establish their commercial presence in the UK.

Who can apply:

You can apply as a representative of an overseas business if you’re either:

  • the sole representative of an overseas business planning to set up either a UK branch or wholly owned subsidiary OR
  • an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation posted on a long-term assignment to the UK

To be eligible for this visa you must:

  • have enough money to support yourself without help from public funds
  • meet the English requirement

To apply as a sole representative, the individual must:

  • be recruited and employed outside the UK by an active and trading business (whose headquarters and principal place of business are, and will remain, outside the UK)
  • have the skills, experience and knowledge to do the role
  • 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
  • intend to establish the overseas business’s first commercial presence in the UK, either as a registered branch or a wholly owned subsidiary
  • You may also be eligible if the business has a legal entity in the UK that does not employ staff or do any business.
  • If your employer has been working to establish a UK branch or subsidiary, but it is not yet set up, you can replace a previous sole representative.

Additional information:

The sole representative must comply with certain conditions of stay. The most important condition is that the individual is only able to be employed by the company that sent them to the UK. It is not possible to have any other business interests or undertake any other part-time or consulting work in the UK.

Additionally, the sole representative may bring their spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner and any children under the age of 18.

Required Documents:

When you apply you’ll need to provide:

  • a current passport or other valid travel identification
  • evidence that you can support yourself and any dependants during your trip, for example bank statements or payslips for the last 6 months
  • proof that you meet the English requirement

If you’re applying from overseas, you’ll also need to provide:

  • details of where you’ll be staying during your stay
  • your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test

When applying as a sole representative of an overseas business you’ll need to provide:

  • 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 take operational decisions

You should also provide evidence that you:

  • are directly employed by the business and are not acting as a sales agent (for example, hired by a business to sell or distribute their products within the UK, but working for yourself and providing your services for a fee)
  • were recruited to the business outside of the UK
  • hold a senior position in the business, with the authority to make decisions on its behalf and set up and run a registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary
  • will be working full time for the business or subsidiary for the duration of your stay and will not carry out any other work
  • do not own or control a majority of the overseas business

Sole Representative Visa - Frequently Asked Questions

The Sole Representative Visa is for businesses headquartered overseas but planning to establish a branch or subsidiary within the UK. A person working as a senior manager in these businesses can apply for a visa to become a UK representative, and can come to the UK shortly, establish the branch, and start their life in the UK.

Now, we will be answering 25 frequently asked questions about the Sole Representative Visa.

First, you must be a senior officer hired on a permanent basis with a business headquartered outside the UK. It is also essential that you have the authority to make operational decisions in your region on behalf of the business. You must also intend to continue working full-time as a representative of the sending business when you arrive in the UK. At the end of your 5th year in the UK, you may be eligible to get permanent residency. Until this date, you will not have the right to work in a different company. You must also not be a majority shareholder (50 percent or more) or otherwise control a majority stake in the company that sent you as a representative. The Department of Home Affairs will consider certain limitations on shareholding in the country in which the entity operates.

There is no minimum time to have been employed for the company. On the other hand, if you have been recently employed, you are expected to have a good career in the same industry or in a related field. It is important to demonstrate that the person who is a senior manager at the company in question will easily manage their operations in the UK, as that person is competent in that field or has been working for that company for many years. This way, the business plans for the branch and representative will be considered reasonable. Your job or role must not have been created primarily to facilitate your entry into the UK.

Sole Representative Visa applicants are not required to earn any minimum salary level or receive any special assistance. However, your compensation package must be appropriate for a senior employee in the company. For example, in a company that is at the level of opening a branch in the UK, if a senior manager receives an amount close to the minimum wage will adversely affect the genuineness of the application.

Yes, but must not own more than 50 percent of the company at the application stage.

You can ensure your eligibility for the Sole Representative Visa by reducing your shareholding rate below 51 percent. However, you must also submit the documents pertaining to the previous year's share sharing in your application, and then demonstrate that you have transferred them.

The company sending you as a representative must be headquartered overseas, or should be a business with headquarters or offices outside the UK. The business must intend to open a branch in the UK under its sole control. The business must not currently have any agents, active branches or offices within the UK.

You can still apply for the visa as long as you can prove that the existing branch exists only as a legal entity (eg for opening a bank account, leasing a workplace). However, the said branch must not employ personnel and must not have made any money transfers.

There is no minimum amount set for this. However, the business in question must be a foreign-based, genuine corporate venture. It is important that the business was not set up with the intention of moving any person to the UK.

The activities performed by the parent business may also be carried out by the branch to be opened in the UK. For example, the branch to be opened should offer a similar product or service. Or the UK branch of the company that produces a product abroad may carry out the sales or service operations of the product or service produced.

No, the parent company can only send one representative to the UK. However, if the company intends to send another employee, it can continue to send workers to the UK on a different route, for instance via a Skilled Worker Visa, by applying for sponsorship licence after the first representative is sent and the branch is opened.

In order to qualify for an extension of stay as a sole representative, all shares issued by the UK entity must be held by the parent company.

No, as a result of the branch or subsidiary established, the company overseas cannot move its headquarters of its operations to the United Kingdom.

One of the issues that needs to be clarified in the application for a successful Sole Representative Visa application is the assurance that the business headquarter will stay outside the UK. For assurance, a few-step query called "centre of operations test" is made specific to the documents given in the application. Assurance can be provided through a letter to be provided by the business and objectives presented under the minimum 3-year plan declared in the business plan.

Relocating the business headquarters to the UK and restricting activities abroad may only be possible in certain circumstances. For example, if the sole representative in the UK is now a significant shareholder, if they are the main driver of the development of the parent company, if there are no or few senior employees left outside the UK, if the success of the company is dependent on the skills and performance of the sole representative, it is possible to move headquarters to the UK.

According to the rules explained, it is not obligatory to submit a business plan for Sole Representative Visa applications. However, presenting the business plan will enable you to meet many of the criteria requested from you within the framework of immigration rules. For example, in order for the outcome to be entry clearance, the branch that will perform the same or similar activities. Thus, in the business plan to be written, the scope of the activities of the branch to be opened can be clearly stated. Such further confirmations via business plan affects the application in a positive way.

You must be employed by the parent company at the application stage. You can then be employed by the UK-based organization following the opening of the branch or subsidiary. However, if you lose your position as the main decision maker for this business, you will need to switch to the Skilled Worker Visa.

As a Sole Representative Visa holder, you can only work on behalf of the business that sent you to the UK. Establishing a different business, working part-time or full-time will be considered a violation of visa rules.

You can apply up to 3 months before your arrival date in the UK.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to switch to the Sole Representative Visa from any visa type. Therefore, you cannot submit your application from the UK. However, you can apply for an extension and permanent residence from the UK.

Home Office charges a fee of £610 per person to evaluate applications for this visa type. In addition, since the visa to be given to you will be for 3 years, you must also pay the health fee, which covers 3 years. The health fee is £624 per person per year. Children pay £470 per year.

The Home Office states that the decision in these visa applications will be made in 3 weeks, but this may be extended with regard to the workload at the Home Office. In addition, many application centers abroad offer an expedited service that allows you to make a decision within 5 working days, with an additional fee.

The first visa to be issued to you will be valid for 3 years. At the end of this process, you will apply for an extension and receive your residence permit, which will be valid for 2 more years. After doing the work required for your visa in the UK for 5 years, you can switch to a permanent residence. After getting your permanent residency, you do not pay any health fees, you can work at any job you want, and you can benefit from state benefits if you wish.

Yes, sole representatives can apply for British citizenship, although the process also require different criteria such as the length of stay in the country in the last 5 years. In general, for citizenship, they must first complete 5 years in the visa type and get a permanent residence. When 12 months have passed since the permanent residence, they will have the right to apply for citizenship. (If they marry a UK citizen, then they can get it right after permanent residence)

Yes, Sole Representative Visa holders can bring their spouses, unmarried partners, and children under the age of 18 with them. Unrestricted work permits are granted to incoming family members. However, they cannot bring their parents, siblings, or other 2nd degree relatives.

Very strict rules are declared about the documents that must be submitted under the Immigration Rules. These documents must be submitted to the Home Office for consideration when applying for a Sole Representative Visa. In this context, he should make sure that the declared documents are in the correct format.

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