Sole Representative Visas for Employees
- Does my company qualify to send a Sole Representative to the UK?
- Am I a suitable person to be sent to the UK as a sole representative?
- What about the spouse / children of the Sole Representative?
- How can a UK Sole Representative visa be Extended?
- What Data and Documents are required to make a UK Sole Representative Visa Application?
- UK Sole Representative Visa FAQs
If you are going to be sent to the UK by a company which does not have an existing UK presence, you may be able to come to the UK using a sole representative visa. However, this sort of visa is designed to be of assistance to established overseas companies - it is not supposed to be used for your own immigration convenience, so any application must show that expansion to the UK is viable and sensible for the overseas company. These days in many cases it is preferable to come under the HSMP visa category which is both more flexible and easier to obtain than the sole representative visa.
If you are an entrepreneur coming to establish and run your own business, you will not qualify for a sole representative visa.
Does my Company Qualify to send a Sole Representative to the UK?
The company must be a genuine existing enterprise; if it has been established for less than a year it is unlikely to be considered a suitable sponsor under this category.
The sending of a Sole Representative to the UK must be for the company's benefit, and not for the immigration convenience of the candidate, so the budget allocated to the UK expansion should not be unrealistic in the context of the company's size, trading activities or profitability.
In general, the commercial logic of the proposed expansion into the UK will be called into question if it is a small concern and the new UK presence will represent a diversification into an area in which you have no existing overseas involvement.
Once the company has sent the representative to the UK, the majority of its business should continue to be overseas. If it appears that the sending of the representative to the UK will result in a general move of corporate operations so that they are based/headquartered in the UK, the application will not be approved.
Am I a suitable person to be sent to the UK as a Sole Representative?
In order to be sent as a Sole Representative of your company to the UK, you should be a senior employee recruited outside the United Kingdom.
Your suitability is enhanced if you have been employed overseas for a significant period of time and are fully familiar with the company's business and procedures. If you have been newly recruited specifically to start a UK office, you will need to demonstrate a strong background which makes you particularly well suited to the role.
If the business is a family concern, and you are a junior member of the family, the application will attract particularly rigorous scrutiny; generally it will not succeed unless you have the qualifications and experience that would be required by commercial as opposed to family concerns.
If you own a majority or a controlling interest in either the Overseas firm, or the proposed new UK entity, you will not be suitable (In practice, the maximum permissible shareholding is not 49% but 30-35%). The Sole Representative visa is not designed for owner-managers or entrepreneurs.
As a Sole Representative you will normally be granted an initial visa for two years. Once in the UK you will usually be entitled to healthcare from the UK's National Health Service. You will therefore have to pass an examination to check that you have no serious medical conditions.
What about the spouse / children of the Sole Representative?
You may apply for your spouse and children to accompany you as your dependants.
Your children entering the UK as your dependants are entitled to the same free education as British children. You may choose to send your children to a private school if you wish.
You and your family are eligible to free health care provided by the National Health Service. You are not required to take out private health insurance.
Your spouse is entitled to take up any lawful employment.
How can a UK Sole Representative visa be Extended?
Sole representative visas are usually granted for an initial period of two years.
Once you have been in the UK for two years, it is generally possible to extend their stay for a further 3 years. This application will be made while you are in the UK, but will necessitate the temporary surrender of the your passport to the home office while the application is considered.
The extension application will need to be accompanied by
- Proof that the you are still required by your employer as their sole representative.
- Accounts of the business generated in the first year of UK presence
- Proof that you have been properly salaried as the person in charge of the subsidiary.
Towards the end of five years in the UK as a Sole Representative, you may apply for settlement (permanent residence) if your employer still requires you to continue in your role.
What Data and Documents are required to make a UK Sole Representative Visa Application?
- The company's last year's accounts which should show your assets, turnover, and full details of share distribution for the previous year.
- A letter confirming that the company will establish a wholly owned subsidiary or register a branch in the United Kingdom;
- Your contract of employment (this should include your salary);
- Confirmation that you are fully familiar with the company's activities and that you have full powers to negotiate and take operational decisions about the planned UK entity without reference to the overseas parent;
- A notarised statement from the company stating that you will be the sole representative and that the company has no other branch, subsidiary, or representative in the United Kingdom;
- A notarised statement confirming that the company's operations will remain centred overseas;
- A notarised statement that the candidate will not engage in business of his or her own nor will he or she represent any other company's interest;
- Your passport.
- A full description of the company's activities overseas
- Your job description and salary
- A Detailed business plan for the proposed UK office.
Q: What happens if the company has already incorporated a UK branch / subsidiary?
A: Sole Representative Visas are only available to overseas firms that have no branch, subsidiary, or other representative in the United Kingdom. However, It is permissible to form a UK company in anticipation of such an appointment so long as that UK company exists only as a shell which has not yet started to trade.
Q: Are Sole Representatives allowed to be Shareholders in the Parent Company?
A: A Sole Representative may not be the majority shareholder in the parent company. Further, the view taken is that removing a major share holder is indicative of the centre of operations moving to the United Kingdom - This is not permitted. Shareholdings in excess of 30% in the parent are likely to result in rigorous scrutiny of the application.
Q: Can Sole Representatives Act as Agents?
A: No, the sole representative must be engaged full-time in establishing a commercial presence for the parent company in the United Kingdom. This precludes taking secondary employment or acting on behalf of anyone other than the parent company.
Q: How long will it take to process a Sole Representative Visa Application?
A: If the application is deemed to be simple, it will probably be processed by the Entry Clearance Officer at the Overseas British Consular Post. Where this is the case, an application will usually not take longer than ten working days.
Where an application is deemed to be complex, or where particularly rigorous scrutiny is called for, it will be referred back to the Home Office in the UK. Such applications can take many months to process.
If you would like to apply for Sole Representative Visa, please fill out our on-line form.