This route is now closed to new applicants. If you already have permission to stay as a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business then you may apply for an extension of stay or for indefinite leave to remain. If you are a senior manager or specialist employee wishingto set up a branch of an overseas business in the UK for the first time then you may qualify for a Global Business Mobility – UK Expansion Worker Visa instead. If you are interested in setting up a new business in the UK, or you own an existing UK business, you may also be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa via self-sponsorship, that is by being sponsored by your own UK company. The Sole Representative route is still open to dependent partners and children of Sole Representatives.
The UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa category is for businesses that wish to send a senior employee to the UK in order to establish a commercial presence for the company in the UK.
The UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa allows a senior employee of an overseas business to come to the UK to set up and run a UK branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of the overseas parent company. Indefinite leave to remain (ILR) can be achieved after 5 years in the Representative of an Overseas Business visa category.
In order to qualify for a UK Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that your overseas company:
You will also need to demonstrate that you:
The exact requirements that you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances. You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.
To discuss your UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa application with one of our immigration solicitors, contact our UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa lawyers on 0203 490 1221 or complete our enquiry form below.
For an employee to qualify for a UK Overseas Business Representative visa, the parent company must be an active and trading overseas business. The overseas parent company must have, and intend to continue to have, its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK. If the parent company already has a branch, subsidiary or other representative in the UK then the business will be excluded. Even where there is no representative in the UK, the business will be disqualified if the employee setting up the branch or subsidiary in the UK would involve the business effectively moving the centre of its business operations to the UK. The Home Office will also need to be satisfied that the branch or wholly-owned subsidiary in the UK intends to actively trade in the same type of business as the overseas business and is not being established solely for the purpose of facilitating the entry and stay of the sole representative.
The UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa applicant must genuinely be an existing senior employee of the overseas business who was recruited and taken on as an employee of the overseas business outside of the UK. They will genuinely have the skills, experience and knowledge of the overseas business necessary to undertake the role of sole representative of the overseas business in the UK. The Representative of an Overseas Business visa candidate will have full authority to negotiate and take operational decisions on behalf of the overseas business and genuinely intend to be employed full-time as a representative of the overseas business. They must genuinely intend to not engage in business of their own or represent any other business’s interest in the United Kingdom.
The Immigration Rules require that an applicant for a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa must not have a majority stake in, or otherwise own or control, the overseas business, whether that ownership or control is by means of a shareholding, partnership agreement, sole proprietorship or any other arrangement.
This means that applicants can be shareholders, but they must not own more than 50% of the available shares in the business at the point of application. Existing majority shareholders may qualify for a Representative of an Overseas Business visa if they reduce their shareholding prior to applying. However, applicants should note that the Home Office will look at the company share distribution in both the current and the previous year.
Applicants (both shareholders and non-shareholders) should also note that the requirements of the route go beyond ownership to cover control. Regardless of the stake in ownership, applicants must not control the overseas business by means of any other arrangement.
For further information regarding the ownership and control requirement for a Representative of an Overseas Business visa, contact our immigration lawyers in London.
A Sole Representative must have authority to set up and operate a UK branch or subsidiary and take the majority of key operational business decisions locally on behalf of the company. Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa holders are also required to work full-time. Sole Representative visa holders are not required to earn any particular minimum level of salary or receive any particular benefits. However, their remuneration package should be appropriate for a senior employee in the company.
For a parent company to satisfy the requirements of the UK’s Representative of an Overseas Business visa it must intend to keep its main centre of business operations abroad. The Home Office will refuse an application for a Sole Representative visa if it is clear that the intention is to move the main centre of business to the UK and effectively cease trading outside the UK.
An intention to move the main centre of business to the UK may be inferred if, for example, the visa applicant is a major shareholder, if they are the driving force behind the parent company, if no or few senior employees will remain abroad or if the company’s success seems linked to the applicant’s specific talents and performance. You can speak to our immigration lawyers for expert advice.
As with all categories of the immigration rules, a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa holder must comply with certain conditions of stay. The most important condition is that Representatives are 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 on the side of employment for the business.
A UK Representative of an Overseas Business may bring, or be joined by, their spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner and any children under the age of 18. Unfortunately, as with most other categories of the Immigration Rules, Representatives of Overseas Businesses cannot bring their parents, siblings or other extended family members.
Where a spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner is accompanying or joining a UK Representative of an Overseas Business, that partner must not themselves have a majority stake in, or otherwise own or control, the overseas business. This rule applies whether the ownership or control is by means of a shareholding, partnership agreement, sole proprietorship or any other arrangement.
You should make an application for a UK Sole Representative visa no more than 3 months before you intend to travel.
The Home Office application fee for a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa is currently £610.
Most Sole Representative visa applications are decided within 3 weeks. Many visa application centres outside the UK also offer a priority service which allows Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa applicants to receive a decision on their applications for entry clearance within 5 working days.
If your application for a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa is approved, you will be given permission to enter and remain in the UK for up to 3 years initially. Beyond this, you will need to submit a further application for leave to remain, which would be valid for 2 years.
In order to qualify for an extension of stay as a UK Representative of an Overseas Business, you will need to still be working for the same employer as when your initial visa was issued and have established the parent company’s first presence in the UK. The employer’s headquarters and principal place of business must still be outside the UK. You will need to show that you have generated business (principally with UK firms) on behalf of your employer since you were granted the visa and that you are in receipt of a salary from your employer. Advice from an immigration lawyer will ensure that your extension application is professionally presented and technically correct.
After five years in the UK as a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business, you may be eligible to apply for settlement. In addition to continuing to meet the requirements for an extension of stay, you will also need to show that you have spent the last 5 years before the date of application in the UK with permission as a Representative of an Overseas Business, you have spent a continuous period of five years in the UK and you have not been absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any of the five years prior to the date of application. Unless aged 65 or over, you will also need to have English language ability on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in speaking and listening to at least level B1 and meet the Knowledge of Life in the UK requirement. Your employer will also need to confirm that they still require you to work for them, and that you have been, and will continue to be, paid the appropriate salary, and that you will be required for the foreseeable future.
On 6 October 2021, additional requirements for ILR as a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business were introduced. As a sole representative applying for settlement you must now additionally show that throughout the 5-year period before the date of your ILR application:
Additionally, you will need to provide various specified documents in support of your ILR application. You may wish to speak with an immigration lawyer for expert advice.
An application for a UK Sole Representative visa can be submitted from outside the UK, but it is also possible to switch into the Sole Representative visa route from within the UK provided you do not have, or were not last granted, permission to stay as a Visitor, Short-term Student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, Domestic Worker in a Private Household or outside the Immigration Rules.
The Immigration Rules contain strict requirements in terms of the documents that must be provided in support of a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa application. It can be helpful to get advice from an immigration lawyer in order to ensure that your application is professionally presented and technically correct.
Our business immigration barristers have experience in assisting all types of companies and partnerships to secure Sole Representative visas for their employees. Whether you are a small business or a large multinational looking to expand into the UK, our barristers are experts in the immigration options available and will guide you through the complex Home Office rules and policies.
We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to businesses as part of a professional and friendly service.
For the applicant to succeed in the ILR application as a spouse under the 5 years route, the applicant must:
Meeting the financial requirement is one of the key requirements for ILR as a spouse under 5 years route.
The financial requirement does not apply to a child who:
According to Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules, the applicant must meet:
Income and cash savings must be in the name of the applicant, their partner or jointly. However, income and cash savings of a dependent child of the applicant can also be included once the child has turned 18 years of age.
All employment or self-employment income must come from working legally. All income and savings must be lawfully derived.
Where the applicant has to meet the minimum income threshold, the financial requirement can generally be met in the following five ways:
The evidential flexibility is set out in paragraph D of Appendix FM-SE. Under Appendix FM-SE there is discretion for decision-makers to defer an application pending submission of missing evidence or the correct version of it, within a reasonable deadline set for this. Decision-makers will not have to defer where they do not think that correcting the error or omission will lead to a grant.
Decision-makers are also able to grant an application despite minor evidential problems (but not where specified evidence is missing entirely). There is also discretion for decision-makers where evidence cannot be supplied because it is not issued in a particular country or has been permanently lost. Decision-makers have general discretion to request additional information or evidence before making a decision.
Where the applicant’s partner is in receipt of any of the following benefits or allowances in the UK, the applicant will be able to meet the financial requirement at that application stage by providing evidence of “adequate maintenance” rather than meeting an income threshold of £18,600 or above:
If the applicant’s partner is in receipt of one of the above benefits or allowances on behalf of their child, the applicant will be able to qualify by meeting the financial requirement through “adequate maintenance”. The evidence required to demonstrate that the applicant’s partner is in receipt of a specified benefit or allowance is specified in Appendix FM-SE.
The applicant must provide specified evidence that he/she:
You will have to pass the Life in the UK test in order to apply for ILR as a spouse unless you are over the age of 65 or you are seeking exemption from this requirement due to medical reasons.
If your application for ILR as a spouse under 5 years route has been refused by the Home Office, UKVI and you believe that the decision to refuse your application is valid and lawful and therefore cannot be challenged successfully by way of appeal, you have the option to re-apply for ILR as a spouse within 14 days of your section 3C leave ending. We can provide the required legal help and assistance with re-applying for ILR as a spouse under 5 years route through our Super Priority Service.
As one of the expert immigration solicitors based in London, we are registered with the Home Office, UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) and its commercial partners UKVCAS Sopra Steria to provide Super Priority Service (SPS) for your ILR application whereby decision on your ILR application will be made by the Home Office UKVI within 24 hours of the enrolment of biometrics at a designated service centre.
Our specialist spouse visa solicitors can prepare and submit your ILR application to the Home Office, UKVI through Super Priority Service (SPS) and get a decision on your ILR application within 24 hours. This way, you will not have to wait for the decision on your ILR application for months (sometimes years).
Our expert team of spouse visa solicitors specialize in ILR spouse visa applications. If instructed to represent you regarding your application for ILR spouse visa under 5 years route, we will carry out all the work on your application until a decision is made by the Home Office UKVI on your ILR application – SET (M) application. The immigration casework to be carried out by our expert team of spouse visa solicitors will include the following:
As specialist immigration solicitors, we pride in having one of the best team of specialist immigration solicitors with wealth of knowledge and experience to deal with all types of UK visa and immigration matters. Our top rated immigration solicitors have successfully helped thousands of clients with all types of UK visa and immigration applications, immigration appeals, Administrative Review, Pre-Action Protocol (PAP) and Judicial Review.
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