Overseas Business

A sole representative visa allows an individual to enter the UK for an overseas company if the company does not have a presence in the UK.

The purpose of the visit must be for the representative to establish the company and build their reputation in the UK or to register a branch within the UK. They are not permitted to enter the UK for personal gain. 

The business the individual is representing must genuinely exist and ordinarily must have been actively trading for over a year. Companies wishing to take advantage of this category must completely understand that it is only for the expansion of their business; companies who wish to move their overseas operations to the UK will be refused.

The sole representative visa is designed to help an overseas company establish/expand its business in the UK. However, the majority of trading must continue in the company’s established country.

An overseas company is not allowed to send more than one person to act as a sole representative in the UK; any additional staff members must apply under the relevant tier for a work visa. 

If the application is successful, an initial two-year period of leave is usually granted. Extensions lasting three years are available. After five successive years in the UK, the individual may apply for indefinite leave to remain. The dependants of a sole representative may enter the UK under the same visa. If the individual has been in the UK for at least two years and the company’s circumstances change, they may continue to remain in the country as a sole representative employee, even if the company appoints a new superior.

Main Points:

The individual has been employed by the parent company for a certain period of time and in a senior position, with the authority to make operational decisions without consulting the company;

  • The individual intends to work full time as a representative of the company in the UK and was recruited outside of the UK;
  • The individual is employed directly by the company;
  • The individual is not a majority shareholder in the company (no more than 30% shareholding to be safe);
  • The individual possesses the required level of competence in English;
  • The parent company must remain headquartered overseas;
  • The employee must have excellent knowledge of the company’s activities and plans in the UK. Normally, sole representatives have been working for the company overseas for a while already. In this case we’d need to show that they have experience of setting up businesses in the UK or working in the same line of business as the overseas business and are ideal for the job;
  • The sole representative must have the financial means to support themselves and any family members within the UK.  However, there is no specific ‘Maintenance Requirement ‘ (unlike Entrepreneurs) as this category is not part of the Points Based System;
  • This category leads to settlement after 5 continuous years;
  • The employee should not spend more than 180 days outside the UK each year if they wish to qualify for settlement;

 Family Members 

The family members of sole representative migrants can submit an application to join their spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same sex partner, or parent (if the applicant is under the age of 18 at the time of application) in the UK. They may also apply for settlement at the same time as the sole representative applicant. Family members are able to work in the UK.