Can I switch into sole representative visa from inside the UK?
You cannot switch into representative of an overseas business visa from inside the UK and the initial application can only be made through an entry clearance from outside the UK.
For how long will I be granted UK visa as a result of a successful application for entry clearance as a sole representative of an overseas business?
As a result of successful entry clearance for sole representative visa UK, you will be granted UK visa as a sole representative of an overseas business for 3 years with an option to extend it for further 2 years to be eligible for ILR after 5 years.
What is a sole representative?
The Home Office UKVI will take into account the following factors when considering whether the applicant can be treated as a sole representative under the representative of an overseas business category:
The sole representative must have:
- been employed by the parent company in a senior job role within the company
- a track record of setting up branches for other companies, if they have been employed specifically to undertake this role
- authority to take operational decisions once in the UK, as indicated by the role in the company hierarchy
Majority shareholders in the parent company are not eligible for entry as sole representatives. The Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) will refuse an application when an applicant’s shareholding is over 50 per cent.
What are the eligibility requirements for sole representative visa entry clearance?
You can apply for entry clearance as sole representative of an overseas employer who intends to establish a commercial presence by operating a registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of that overseas business in the UK: that branch or subsidiary will operate in the same type of business activity as the overseas business.
For you to make a successful application as a sole representative of an overseas business, you must:
- be recruited and employed outside the UK by the employer they intend to represent in the UK
- intend to work full-time for the organisation
- not intend to take any other employment
- be applying to be the sole representative in the UK of an overseas employer who intends to establish and operate a registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of that overseas business in the UK: that branch or subsidiary will operate in the same type of business activity as the overseas business
- not be a majority shareholder in that overseas business
- be a senior employee of the overseas company
- have full authority to take operational decisions on behalf of the overseas business for the purpose of representing it in the UK
- obtain entry clearance in this category before arrival in the UK and present it to an border force officer on arrival
- provide evidence that you can maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds
- meet the required standard in English language
You employer must have:
- its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK
- no branch, subsidiary or other representative in the UK
If there is already a branch, subsidiary or other representative in the UK, employees must apply under the points-based system.
What the conditions of grant of UK visa entry clearance as a sole representative of an overseas business?
Leave to enter or remain under this route is subject to the following conditions:
- no recourse to public funds;
- must register with the police, if required by paragraph 326 of the Immigration Rules;
- work only as a representative for the business which they have been admitted to represent;
- study (with no limit on the number of study hours if it doesn’t interfere with the job they have been sponsored to do).
Can I sponsor my dependants to join me or accompany me to the UK?
You can sponsor your dependants (spouse/partner and children under the age of 18) to accompany you to the UK or to join you later in the UK as your dependants.
What is difference between a branch and subsidiary of an overseas compnay in the UK?
You must consider the following information for a branch or subsidiary to meet the requirements of the representative of an overseas business category:
Branch Of An Overseas Company
A registered branch is part of a company organised to conduct business on behalf of the parent company. This enables someone in the UK to deal direct with the branch here instead of the company in its home country.
The sole representative must intend to, and then actually, establish the new branch in the UK. This must be the same type of business as the parent company overseas. For example, it must supply a similar product or service. An overseas manufacturing company can establish a UK branch for the sale or servicing of their products in the UK.
The UK branch must register with Companies House as a UK establishment within one month of opening.
You can apply for sole representative representative visa entry clearance after a branch is established in the UK, as long as that branch:
- exists only as a legal entity;
- has set up a bank account;
- has identified, and set up, premises.
Entry clearance as a sole representative will only be granted where:
- no staff are employed;
- the branch has not yet transacted any business.
An example might be when the company has set up as a legal entity in advance of the company’s expansion into the UK.
A Wholly-owned Subsidiary
If a parent company or holding company owns 100% of another company, that company is called a "wholly-owned subsidiary." Wholly-owned subsidiaries are 100 percent owned by the parent company.
Advantages of using wholly owned subsidiaries include vertical integration of supply chains, diversification, risk management, and favorable tax treatment abroad. Disadvantages include the possibility of multiple taxation, lack of business focus, and conflicting interest between subsidiaries and the parent company.
While a branch has no separate legal standing, a subsidiary company is a separate legal entity and has an identity different from its holding company. In case of branches, there may be the joint or separate maintenance of accounts, whereas the subsidiaries maintain their own separate accounts.
The most common form of company for a UK subsidiary is the private limited company, and setting up a company of that type involves going through the standard UK company registration process and applying to Companies House. A UK subsidiary has to have at least one named director.
What should the terms of employment of a sole representative entail?
The applicant must provide an employment contract which should lay down all the terms and conditions of employment of the sole representative. The terms and conditions of employment should entail, among other factors, the authority (job description) of the sole representative and the salary and hours of the sole representative.
What is the processing time for sole representative visa entry clearance appliation?
An application for sole representative visa entry clearance made using standard service is normally granted within 3 to 4 weeks.
If the Prioirty Service is available in the country you’re applying from you can choose the ‘priority service’ when you apply. There will be an additional cost for this service. A decision will be made within 5 working days of your appointment at the visa application centre.
Check with your visa application centre to see if the priority visa service is available in the country you’re applying from. The priority visa service is available in most countries.
You might wait longer for a decision if your application is not straightforward and more information is required before a decision is made. If your application is delayed, you will be informed by the Entry Clearance Officer (ECO) within the standard timescales for your visa.