Sole Representative of an Overseas Business Visa

An Easier Visa for High Potential Individuals
September 6, 2018

Muldoon Britton were recently successful in obtaining two visas for Sole Representatives of Overseas Businesses – the businesses and our clients were unconnected. Our clients were both US Nationals, whom worked for companies on the East Coast. One company was a technology-based company, and the other a marketing agency. Both our client’s companies sought to expand into the UK and European markets, and appointed one person within the company to establish a subsidiary or branch of the US-based parent company in the UK.

An applicant can apply to come to the UK as a representative of an overseas business if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland and they’re either:

    1. the sole representative of an overseas company planning to set up a UK branch or a wholly owned subsidiary for an overseas parent company;

    2. an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation posted on a long-term assignment to the UK.

The visa is seldom applied for – in fact, it is not even advertised under the work-based visa categories on the list of work visas on UKVI only granted 695 non-points based working visas in 2017, and only 125 Sole Representative Visas were granted between 2016-2017, despite 505 applications being made. This is due in part to the Home Office wanting to encourage potential migrants to make an application for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa under the points-based system.

However, as our clients worked for US based businesses, who wished to keep their principal place of business in the USA, the sole representative visa was the best option. There are several criteria to be met in order to be eligible for the visa:

    1. The applicant must be recruited and employed outside the UK by a company whose headquarters and principal place of business are outside the UK;

    1. They must have extensive related industry experience and knowledge;

    2. The applicant must hold a senior position within the company (but not be a majority shareholder) and have full authority to make decisions on its behalf;

    3. And they must intend to establish the company’s first commercial presence in the UK, e.g. a registered branch or a wholly owned subsidiary.

The guidance provided by the Home Office is daunting and unclear in some areas, and there is a lot of documentation that needs to be drafted and provided by the applicant and the company they’re employed by. The Home Office want to be clear about what the parent company’s intentions are in the UK, and whilst a business plan is not a mandatory document, it is helpful to include one. Other documentation includes proof of the company’s status and establishment in the country of origin, including a memorandum and article of association. An up-to-date shareholder agreement is essential in confirming that the applicant is not a majority shareholder in the company, and a notarised witness statement must be provided by the parent company, confirming that the applicant will be the company’s sole representative in the UK and has full authority to make decisions on the company’s behalf.

The visa is initially granted for a period up to 3 years and can be extended from within the UK for a further 2 years. After 5 years of continuous residence in the UK, the migrant may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, otherwise known as permanent residency.

Should you wish to discuss the requirements for an Overseas Representative Visa in further detail, please don’t hesitate to contact our office on either +44 161 826 6922 or +1 212 653 0677.

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With years of experience working in UK immigration and British nationality law, our advisors can help you understand the process and take the right steps to obtain your visa. Get in touch today.