How to expand your business in the UK? Understanding UK Sole Representative Visa.
The Financial Times FDI Report 2017 confirmed the UK has held on to its top ranked position as an investment destination in Europe with 22% market share worth £38bn. The UK has enhanced trade opportunities, better investment, stronger innovation and strengthened competition in the market, and therefore lot of businesses are keen on setting up a subsidiary company in the UK.
What is the representative of overseas business category?
The UK Sole representative visa or representatives of overseas businesses is a non-point based category of visa for businesses who are being posted to the UK to establish a registered branch or subsidiary of that company and representatives of overseas media organizations being posted to the UK on a long-term assignment.
Under the category of representatives of overseas businesses, the overseas company can establish its presence in the UK. However, the majority of trading must be taking place in the companies established country.
A registered branch is a part of a company organized to conduct business on behalf of the parent company. This in essence would mean that any potential customer can directly deal with the branch in UK instead of the company in its home country.
The applicant on a sole representative visa can stay in the UK up to for an initial period of 3 years. An application can be made to the UK Home office to extend the visa for further 2 year and after completion of 5 years, the applicant is eligible to apply for permission to settle permanently in UK i.e Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
What does a sole representative visa do?
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/applicant to establish the company and build their reputation in the UK or to register a branch within the UK.
The overseas company is allowed to send one person to act as a sole representative in the UK and any additional staff members must apply under the relevant tier for a UK work visa.
Eligibility requirements for representatives of overseas businesses
When the applicant is applying for the UK Sole representative visa, the applicant must meet the UK immigration requirements to be eligible as a representative of an overseas business category:
- They must be recruited and employed outside the UK by the employer they intend to represent in the UK.
- They must be a senior employee of the overseas company.
- They are in receipt of a salary from their employer for at least 12 months
- They must intend to work full time as a representative of the company in the UK.
- They must have full authority to take operational decisions on behalf of the overseas business for the purpose of representing it in the UK.
- They must provide evidence that they have the financial means to maintain and support themselves and any family members within the UK.
- They must 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 and that branch or subsidiary will operate in the same types of business activity as the overseas business.
- They must need to prove their knowledge of the English language when they apply. They can do so either by taking a English language test or with their academic qualification.
- They must not be a majority shareholder in that overseas business
- The applicant’s shareholding cannot be over 50%.
- They must not take recourse to public funds
- As a part of enhanced health screening process the applicant along with its dependants are required to undertake a Tuberculosis test.