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UK REPRESENTATIVE OF AN OVERSEAS BUSINESS VISA

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.  

What is a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa?

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.

Download our Representative of an Overseas Business Visa Brochure

Requirements for a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa

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:

  • Is an active and trading overseas business;
  • Has its headquarters and principal place of business outside the United Kingdom;
  • Has no other active branch, subsidiary or representative in the UK;
  • Intends to establish a registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary in the UK that will actively trade in the same business activity as the overseas business;
  • The overseas business will not be established or the sole representative appointed mainly for the purpose of facilitating the entry or stay of the sole representative;
  • Intends to maintain the centre of its operations overseas.

You will also need to demonstrate that you:

  • Are a genuine Representative of an Overseas Business;
  • Are an existing senior employee of the overseas business;
  • Have been recruited and taken on as an employee of the overseas business outside of the UK;
  • Have the skills, experience and knowledge of the business necessary to undertake the role of sole representative of the overseas business in the UK;
  • Have full authority to negotiate and take operational decisions on behalf of the overseas business;
  • Intend to work full-time as a representative of the overseas business;
  • Do not intend to engage in business of your own or work for any other business;
  • Do not have a majority stake in, or otherwise own or control, a majority of the overseas business, whether that ownership or control is by means of a shareholding, partnership agreement, sole proprietorship or any other arrangement;
  • Can show English language ability to at least CEFR Level A1 (speaking and listening);
  • Can show you can adequately maintain and accommodate yourself and your dependants in the UK, without recourse to public funds.

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.

Is your business eligible to establish a UK branch or subsidiary?

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.

Choosing a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa candidate 

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.

Can a UK Representative of an Overseas Business be a shareholder?

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.

  • Choosing a sole representative of overseas business visa candidate
  • Is your business eligible to establish a UK branch or subsidiary?
  • Can Sole Representatives Be Shareholders?
  • UK Sole Representative visa success stories 

What are the terms of employment of a UK Overseas Business Sole Representative?

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.  

What is the centre of operations test for a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa?

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. 

What are the conditions of stay for a UK Representative of an Overseas Business?

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. 

Can a UK Representative of an Overseas Business bring family members to the UK?

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.

  • Sole Representative Visa: The Centre of Operations Test
  • What can I do (and not do) as a sole representative?
  • Terms of employment as a sole representative
  • Can a sole representative bring family members to the UK?

When should I apply for a UK Sole Representative visa? 

You should make an application for a UK Sole Representative visa no more than 3 months before you intend to travel. 

How much does a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa cost? 

The Home Office application fee for a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa is currently £610.

How long will it take for my UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa application to be decided?

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.

Extension of stay as a UK Representative of an Overseas Business

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.

Settlement in the UK as a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa holder

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:

  • The overseas business that you represent has been active and trading with its headquarters and principal place of business remaining outside the UK;
  • You have been employed and worked full time for the overseas business you represent, or for that business’s UK branch or subsidiary;
  • You have not undertaken work for any other business or engaged in business of your own;
  • You have not had a majority stake in, or otherwise owned or controlled a majority of the overseas business you represent, by means of a shareholding, partnership agreement, sole proprietorship or any other arrangement;
  • You have established and then supervised the registered a branch or wholly owned subsidiary of the overseas business you represent in the UK, where that branch or subsidiary was actively trading in the same type of business as the overseas business.

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.

Switching into the UK Sole Representative route

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.

How our immigration barristers can help your UK Sole Representative visa application

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.

 

Eligibility Requirements For ILR As A Spouse Under 5 Years Route?

The application will be considered in accordance with requirements of the Immigration Rules as set out in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules.

For the applicant to succeed in the ILR application as a spouse under the 5 years route, the applicant must:

  • meet the suitability criteria as set out in Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules;
  • show that he/she has been living with the UK spouse during the last grant of leave as spouse and the relationship of the applicant is genuine and subsisting;
  • demonstrate that the applicant and the UK sponsor intend to live together permanently;
  • meet the financial requirement of earning £18,600 gross per year (or above if there are non-British / non-settled children), individually or jointly unless an exemption from meeting the financial requirement of £18,600 applies in which case the applicant should meet the adequate maintenance requirement;
  • meet the requirement of adequate accommodation to be accommodated in the UK without any recourse to public funds;
  • prove that the applicant meets the English language proficiency at CEFR level B1 in listening and speaking only;
  • prove that the applicant meets the Life in the UK test requirement.

What Is Financial Requirement For ILR As A Spouse?

Meeting the financial requirement is one of the key requirements for ILR as a spouse under 5 years route.

When Does Financial Requirement Does Not Apply To A Child?

The financial requirement does not apply to a child who:

  • Is a British Citizen (including an adopted child who acquires British citizenship);
  • Is settled in the UK (holds ILR in the UK) or who qualifies for indefinite leave to enter (ILE); or
  • Qualifies under Part 8 or Appendix Armed Forces of the Immigration Rules in a category to which the financial requirement does not apply.

Meeting The Financial Requirement For ILR As A Spouse (5 Years Route)

According to Appendix FM of the Immigration Rules, the applicant must meet:

  • the level of the financial requirement applicable to their application; and
  • the requirements specified as to:
    (a) the permitted sources of income/savings; and
    (b) the time periods and permitted combinations of sources applicable to each permitted source relied upon; and
    (c) the evidence required for each permitted source relied upon.

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.

What Are The Various Sources Of Meeting The Financial Requirement?

Where the applicant has to meet the minimum income threshold, the financial requirement can generally be met in the following five ways:

  • Income from salaried or non-salaried employment of the partner (and/or the applicant if they are in the UK with permission to work). This is referred to as Category A or Category B, depending on the employment history.
  • Non-employment income, e.g. income from property rental or dividends from shares. This is referred to as Category C.
  • Cash savings of the applicant’s partner and/or the applicant, above £16,000, held by the partner and/or the applicant for at least 6 months and under their control. This is referred to as Category D.
  • State (UK or foreign), occupational or private pension of the applicant’s partner and/or the applicant. This is referred to as Category E.
  • Income from self-employment, and income as a director or employee of a specified limited company in the UK, of the partner (and/or the applicant if they are in the UK with permission to work). This is referred to as Category F or Category G, depending on which financial year(s) is or are being relied upon.

Evidence Flexibility For Financial Requirement

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.

Exemption From Financial Requirement For ILR As A Spouse Under 5 Years Route (Adequate Maintenance)

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:

  • Carer’s Allowance.
  • Disability Living Allowance.
  • Severe Disablement Allowance.
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
  • Attendance Allowance.
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment or Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme.
  • Constant Attendance Allowance, Mobility Supplement or War Disablement Pension under the War Pensions Scheme.
  • Police Injury Pension.

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.

English Language Requirement For ILR As A Spouse Under 5 Years Route

The applicant must provide specified evidence that he/she:

  1. is a national of a majority English speaking country; or
  2. has passed an English language test in speaking and listening at a minimum of level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages with a provider approved by the Home Office, UKVI; or
  3. has an academic qualification recognized by UK NARIC to be equivalent to the standard of a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree or PhD in the UK, which was taught in English; or
  4. is exempt from the English language requirement because at the date of application:
    • the applicant is aged 65 or over;
    • the applicant has a disability (physical or mental condition) which prevents the applicant from meeting the requirement; or
    • there are exceptional circumstances which prevent the applicant from being able to meet the requirement prior to entry to the UK.

Life In The UK Test Requirement For ILR As A Spouse Under 5 Years Route

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.

Re-Applying For ILR As A Spouse Under 5 Years Route After The Refusal

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.

Super Priority Service (Decision Within 24 Hours) For ILR As A Spouse [SET (M) Application]

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).

How We Can Help With Your ILR As A Spouse Under 5 Years Route?

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:

  • Assessing your eligibility for ILR as a spouse visa under 5 years route by considering all your personal circumstances including assessment of meeting the financial requirement;
  • Advising you on the weaknesses and strengths of your ILR application as a spouse;
  • Advising you on the relevant documents to be submitted in support of your ILR application;
  • Assessing your documents to ensure that the documentary evidence is as per requirements of the Home Office UKVI immigration Rules;
  • Completing and submitting the online application form SET (M) to apply for ILR as a spouse by gathering all the relevant information from you and your spouse;
  • Helping you with paying the spouse visa application fee online;
  • Booking your appointment with the application centre for verification of documents and enrolment of biometrics;
  • Where necessary, preparing detailed witness statement of the applicant and/or the sponsor explaining the background of their relationship and other relevant factors pertaining to the ILR application;
  • Preparing a detailed cover letter to introduce and support your ILR application;
  • Uploading online all the relevant supporting documents before you attend your appointment for enrolment of your biometrics;
  • Liaising with the Home Office UKVI for a timely decision on your ILR application.

Contact Our Managing Director

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.

Managing Director

Theo Mathias-Nwaulune

Managing Director

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