Sole Representative Visa

The Sole 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 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.

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Conditions of stay for a Sole Representative

As with all categories of the immigration rules, a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa holder must comply with certain conditions of stay.  The most important condition is that Sole 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 Sole Representative bring family members to the UK?

A Sole 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, Sole Representatives 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 Sole Representative, that partner must not themselves have a majority stake in, or otherwise own or control, the overseas business.