Article by Teni Shahiean. Teni Shahiean is a founding partner at OTS Solicitors. She has a wealth of experience in business immigration law, commercial law and employment law and regularly advises businesses on Sponsor Licence acquisition and compliance. Teni is also regularly called on to provide expert opinion on television and in print media, both in the UK and internationally.

For those of us living in the UK and benefiting a lack of restrictions when it comes to doing business in other nations, it can be hard to imagine what it is like to be the sole UK representative of an organisation based in a country under international sanctions.

One of our recent clients was in this position, and the sanctions placed on their country meant it was extremely difficult for them to obtain Indefinite Leave to Remain.

Fortunately, my team and I have a wealth of experience in business immigration law and regularly deal with complicated situations where a legitimate company (or person) is struggling to open a start-up or a branch office in the UK due to international sanctions being placed on their country of origin.

In this article, I will briefly explain what the Representative of an Overseas Business is and how to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after being in the UK for the required length of time.

OTS Solicitors is a Legal 500 recommended law firm based in London.  We have won numerous other awards for our immigration service, including a Global Excellence Award for the Most Trusted in Immigration law.  My team and I regularly support both overseas businesses and individuals applying for a Representative of an Overseas Business Visa.

Representative of an Overseas Business Visa

The Representative of an Overseas Business Visa is a way for internationally-based companies to do business in the UK and test the local market, without having to outlay the capital required in opening a branch office. The visa is also used by media organisations who wish to have a journalist based in the UK long-term.

It is imperative to note that the benefit gained from the Representative of an Overseas Business Visa is for the company, not the individual coming to Britain.

The eligibility requirements for a Representative of an Overseas Business are as follows:

  • the employee must be recruited and employed by an organisation whose headquarters are based outside the UK
  • the employee must have superior industry experience and knowledge
  • the employee must be senior and have the ability to make major decisions
  • the employee must have a knowledge of English
  • the organisation must be establishing a presence in the UK

You may also be eligible if the company has a legal entity in the UK that doesn’t have employees or trade.

The Representative of an Overseas Business Visa allows the employee to bring their spouse and children (under 18 years) to the UK. In addition, the visa can be extended for a further two years following the expiry of the initial grant which lasts three years.

After five years, the employee can apply for settlement.

Applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain

If you wish to apply for settlement after being in the UK for five years on a Representative of an Overseas Business Visa, you will need to show:

  • you meet the ‘continuous residence’ requirements
  • you have abided by the rules of your visa/s
  • you have passed the Life in the UK test (if you are aged between 18 and 65 years)
  • you meet the English language requirements (if you are aged between 18 and 65 years)

To meet the continuous residence requirements, you will need evidence to prove that during your five years in Britain you have not left the country for any more than 180 days in any of the years preceding the date you apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.  Only whole days are considered by immigration officers when counting absences. 

The Home Office may consider applying discretion on some absences which are related to your reason for applying for the Representative of an Overseas Business Visa so that it does not count towards the 180-day limit.  For example, if you must travel back to your head office for training or reporting purposes and you have evidence of this, in some circumstances the Home Office may consider applying discretion for this to not be calculated within the 180 days limit.  Should you go back to your country of origin on holiday, this will be counted towards the 180-day period.  However, if you must return home on serious, compelling, or compassionate grounds and evidence of this is provided, the immigration officer considering your application has some discretion to not calculate it within the 180-day allowance.

OTS Success Story

Our client was a sole representative of an overseas business in the UK. They approached us after being refused Indefinite Leave to Remain based on excessive absences and lack of specified evidence. We advised the client to submit an extension application as the best way of securing their status. The greatest complexity in the application related to proving the payment of the client’s salary, given the fact that they were a national of a country under international sanctions and – due to these sanctions – had problems opening and maintaining a bank account in the UK. Thus, proving our client’s employment was real and ongoing was a challenge. As the business had no UK bank account, proving the value of the business was also difficult.  We addressed each of these issues by showing the chain of transactions that allowed money to be invested in the UK business.  We also provided evidence of our client’s attempts to maintain an account in the UK.

In summary

Our immigration Solicitors in London can provide you with the best legal advice and representation when it comes to applying for a Representative of an Overseas Business Visa, and Indefinite Leave to Remain. Also, after 12 months of being granted Indefinite Leave to Remain, you may be eligible for British Citizenship. My team and I can discuss your situation and quickly advise if you meet the criteria.  If so, we can ensure your application is completed correctly and all the relevant documents collated.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London and is Legal 500 leading firm.  By making an appointment with one of our business immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.

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