In this post we answer some of the questions that are most frequently asked by individuals and businesses who are considering applying for a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa.
1. Can I switch from another immigration category into the Representative of an Overseas Business category from within the UK?
It is not possible to switch into the Representative of an Overseas Business category from another immigration category. Therefore, if you currently have leave to remain in the UK in another immigration category you will need to leave the UK in order to apply for entry clearance as a Representative of an Overseas Business.
2. Can I, as a Sole Representative, or my dependants, be a shareholder in the parent company?
Sole Representatives can be shareholders in the business that is looking to establish a branch or subsidiary in the UK. However, they cannot be majority shareholders. An application will be refused if the Sole Representative visa applicant holds more than 50% of the shares in the parent company. Existing majority shareholders will need to reduce their shareholding before applying for a visa as a Representative of an Overseas Business.
Dependants of Sole Representatives can also be shareholders of the parent company. However, they must not be representing the company in the UK and care will also need to be taken to ensure that the centre of business operations will not move, or be seen to be moving, to the UK. You may wish to speak to our immigration barristers for expert advice if this situation arises.
3. Does the parent company need to have a minimum level of turnover or profit?
The parent company does not need to demonstrate any minimum level of turnover or profit in order to send a senior employee to the UK as a Sole Representative. However, the parent company must be a genuine commercial enterprise with its principal place of business outside the UK.
4. Can a parent company change an existing Sole Representative for someone else?
A Sole Representative must be a senior employee of an overseas business which has no active branch, subsidiary or other representative in the United Kingdom. Therefore, if an existing Sole Representative vacates their position and the UK entity is still in its early stages and has not yet started trading then it may be possible for a second Sole Representative to fill the vacant position. You may wish to speak to our immigration barristers if this situation arises.
5. Do I need to speak English in order to qualify as a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business?
You will be required to demonstrate knowledge of the English Language to at least CEFR Level A1 (speaking and listening).
6. Can a Sole Representative bring family members to the United Kingdom?
As a Sole Representative visa holder, you will be able to join, or be accompanied by, your spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner and any dependant children under the age of 18. Dependants will be granted leave to expire on the same date as the Sole Representative.
7. How long can I stay in the United Kingdom on a Sole Representative visa?
If your application for a Sole Representative visa is successful, you will initially be granted leave for a period of 3 years. You may be able to extend your visa for an additional 2 years.
8. Can I settle in the United Kingdom as a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business?
You will be able to apply for permission to settle permanently in the UK after you have been in the UK as a Sole Representative for a period of 5 years.
In addition to continuing to meet the requirements for an extension of stay, you will need to demonstrate:
- You have not been absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any of the 5 years prior to the date of application;
- You have sufficient knowledge of the English language;
- You have sufficient knowledge about life in the United Kingdom;
- You do not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal;
- You are not in the UK in breach of immigration laws.
9. How much does a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa cost?
A Representative of an Overseas Business visa costs £610. You will also be required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge of £400 for each year of the leave granted.
10. How long will it take to receive a decision on an entry clearance application as the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business?
The Home Office service standard for out-of-country applications is 90% within 3 weeks, 98% within 6 weeks and 100% within 12 weeks. There are priority visa services available at most application centres outside of the UK. These can deliver a decision within 5 working days.
Contact Our Business Immigration Barristers
For expert advice and assistance with an entry clearance application as the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business or an extension application, contact our Barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.