Applying for A Sole Representative Visa

Regardless of the Brexit outcome, the United Kingdom will remain one of the world most powerful economies. With a market of 65 million people and close ties with Europe, many overseas-based organisations look to establishing a subsidiary or branch office in Britain.

To achieve such a commercial ambition,companies often send a sole representative to the UK to establish contacts,investigate the market, and start building a sales pipeline. One of the most effective visas for this purpose is the Representative of an Overseas Business Visa.

Companies who send a staff member to the UK via the Representative of an Overseas Business visa route experience several advantages, including:

1.   the sole representative can gather critical information regarding the market and opportunities available, prior to committing an entire team.

2.   the visa is for three years, with an option to extend, providing plenty of time to establish contacts and set up the subsidiary/branch office.

3.   the sole representative is entitled to bring their dependent family members (their spouse/partner and children under 18 years) with them.

The Requirements of a Representative ofan Overseas Business Visa

Both the employer and the sole representative must meet stringent requirements to be granted entry clearance on a Sole Representative Visa. It is wise to seek professional advice before committing internal resources to making an application, as failure to fill in the forms correctly or supply the necessary supporting documents can result in wasted time and money.

Employer requirements

The business which is sending the overseas representative to the UK needs to provide a notarised statement which confirms:

1.   the organisation’s headquarters are located in a non-UK jurisdiction

2.   the employee will be the sole representative of the organisation

3.   the employee will not take on work from any other company other than the organisation sending them as a sole representative

UK Visas and Immigration will also investigate aspects of the business applying for a Representative of an Overseas Business Visa. They will want assurance that the organisation applying for the visa is an established, viable, genuine company with a good track record.  Therefore,directors or HR executives will need to have to hand previous years’ company accounts, as well as information regarding the length of time the business has been trading, and the number of employees. It can be helpful to have professional legal advice from authorised immigration lawyer in this matter.

Immigration officials are required to examine the company applying for a Sole Representative Visa to establish whether there is a risk, the operation plans to move its headquarters permanently to the UK. If the organisation has few employees and/or low turnover, or is a start-up, suspicions will be raised that this is the ultimate objective.  It does not matter if the UK-based subsidiary outgrows the headquarters in terms of scale, but it must not become the main head quarters of the company.

Employee requirements

To be eligible for a Representative of an Overseas Business Visa , the employee must satisfy the following requirements:

1.   provide proof they can support themselves and their dependants without having to resort to public funds

2.   speak English to the required level

3.   show they were hired by a non-UK company in a location outside the UK

4.   prove they have extensive industry-related experience and knowledge

5.   hold a senior position in the organisation (but are not a major shareholder)

6.   provide evidence they are being sent to establish a UK wholly-owned subsidiary or branch office

7.   show they have been given authority to make decisions on the organisation’s behalf

Is the Representative of an Overseas Business Right for your Organisation?

The Sole Representative Visa may not be suitable for your company’s long-term requirements.  For example, if a UK-based employee is already in the country on this type of visa, a Tier 2 visa may be a more suitable option to gain entry into the UK for another employee. The same applies if the business conducted by the subsidiary established in the UK begins to grow apart from that of the overseas headquarters or the subsidiary is wholly or partly brought out by another company.

Seeking professional advice from the start of the application process can ensure a business does not squander valuable time and resources on an application which is likely to be refused due to the sole representative route not being suitable or not presenting the correct supporting documentation.  When it comes to applying for any type of business visa, preparation and obtaining the right advice is key to success.

A Y & JSolicitors: Immigration Lawyers based in London.

They are expert in all aspect of the UK immigration including Tier 1 Investor Visa , Business Visitor Visa, Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa , Unmarried Partner Visa, British Citizenship, and UK Ancestry Visa.

Disclaimer: No material/information provided on this website should be construed as legal advice. Readers should seek an appropriate professional advice for their immigration matters.

More from A Y & J Solicitors