FAQ on Sole Representative Visa

FAQs on Sole Representative Visa

On December 04, 2020 | In Sole Representative Visa | By A Y & J Solicitors

1. Can my family come with me to the UK?

Coming to the UK as a sole representative, does not have to be alone as the “sole” may suggest. Your immediate family members, spouse, civil partner and dependants children under 18 years of age may join in the UK.  

Accompanying dependants will be able to work, study in the UK and settle down after completing a continuous 5 years in the same category as your dependents.  

2. Can we extend the visa of my dependents alongside?

Sole representative visa holders can apply to extend their stay in the UK under the same category by proving their eligibility once again. They can also include their dependants (who are on their current visa) on their application to extend, also children who have turned 18 during their stay in the UK. The applicants must be made before their current visa expires.

3. What are the advantages of a Sole Representative Visa? 

You know the United Kingdom has become an excellent destination among numerous small or large organisations. It has a great and ever-growing economy, where you can see your business grow and prosper at a very fast speed. 

This visa route leads to settlement and citizenship.

4. I am a shareholder in the business, do I still qualify for the Sole Representative Visa?

You can be a shareholder in the business.  The rules prohibit those who are majority shareholders in the business. If changes in shareholding took place, whereby you sold your shares to a partner, evidence of genuineness (that you no longer have access to the benefits of a majority shareholder) must be provided.  This could include legal binding agreements, bank statements showing sale of the shares.  

5. How can I prove my English language knowledge for a Sole Representative Visa?

 You can prove your level of English language by passing an English language test with at least CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening. If you have a degree taught in English this will suffice the rules. You will not be expected to prove your level of English if you are a national of one of the below English language countries:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Dominica
  • Grenada
  • Guyana
  • Malta
  • Jamaica
  • New Zealand
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • St Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • USA

6. What amount do I need to invest to obtain a sole representative visa?

There is no minimum or maximum investment required for a sole representative visa. However, the company must have sufficient capital to start and sustain the business in the UK. 

A business plan for the company should reflect practical and reasonable financial summary and start-up costs of setting up and operating the business.

7. Who can be a Sole Representative?

  • A senior employee of an overseas  business, who is not a majority shareholder in the organisation and has: 
  • Relevant skills and qualifications to qualify for this position to make business decisions on the company’s behalf.

8. Why should you choose the UK as a destination? 

The United Kingdom offers not only great exposure to the European market, but also stability to those coming to represent their overseas businesses. Once a branch or subsidiary is established, your organisation could become a Sponsor, and start sponsoring other overseas staff under the Skilled Worker route.  Therefore, not only you will establish a branch or subsidiary in the UK, but also bring your most reliable and skilled staff from abroad.   

9. Is it possible to extend the Representative of an Overseas Business Visa? 

Yes. Your visa can be expanded for up to two years after the initial visa period of 3 years. The fee for extending the visa would be £704 to extend the visa term plus immigration health surcharge fees and £19.20 for giving the biometric data (fingerprints and a photo). The home office will contact you within eight weeks after you submit your application for extending the visa. 

10. How long will it take to process the sole representative visa? 

Based on our experience, a decision on your Sole Representative Visa can take up to 4-6 weeks.

11. Is it possible for a UK sole rep visa holder to send his children to a UK public school to study?

Yes. 

12. What can be asked in an interview for getting a sole rep visa?

The Entry Clearance Officer may ask questions in relation to your employer, and your dealings with the organisation.  Common questions are –

  • Tell us about your business – what do you do?
  • How long have you been working with them?
  • Who owns the majority of shares?
  • What was the profit and loss of the business?
  • How many employees are currently working in your business?
  • Why do you see the UK as a perfect place to set up a branch?
  • Will the main company continue to operate abroad after setting up the branch or subsidiary?

13. How can we assist you in applying for a Representation Of An Overseas Business Visa?

A Y & J Solicitors has a great team of experienced immigration lawyers willing to guide you through the process of applying for, and successfully obtaining a Sole Representative Visa. We recognise the issues which applicants may face and the long list of documents that must be provided with your application. Therefore, we can lead you to the process for a successful outcome. We are here to help you with each phase of giving rise to your business in the UK’s market.

14. How long do I need to have been employed by the company for?

To obtain a Sole Representative Visa, you do not have to be employed by the company for any specific duration of time. You do need to however prove that there is a clear employee-employer relationship between you and the company and that you have experience and expertise in your field of work. This can be from previous projects or jobs . If the sole purpose of your employment is to send you to the UK as the sole representative, it is also advisable to submit the interview notes to demonstrate why you have been appointed for this position. Your appointment should have been for your skills. The main aim of this is to make sure that you have an appropriate level of seniority to make decisions on behalf of the overseas business whilst in the UK and that your post was not created for the purpose of you getting a sole representative visa. 

15. Can a sole representative be a shareholder of the parent company?

A sole representative visa applicant should not own more than 50% shares of the parent company. A sole representative visa applicant can be the founder, CEO, or any other senior member from the executives or management of the firm.

16. I am a majority shareholder, can I reduce my shareholding and then apply?

As mentioned above, any shareholder can be a sole representative for the firm. So, yes if you sell your shares and the ownership is now below 50%, you can apply for the sole representative visa. However, as you are required to provide documents from the previous year, you would have to also provide evidence of selling your shares since then with an up to date share register as well. 

You should not have a majority stake or otherwise control of the company, directly/indirectly. 

17. Is my employer eligible to establish a UK branch or subsidiary?

Any business that is based out of the UK and is a legitimate business can apply for a sole representative visa if they genuinely wish to set up a branch or subsidiary in the UK. This does not apply to businesses which have an existing business or subsidiary in the UK or a sole representative here. The Home Office will  consider the overseas company’s business plan when considering whether your sole representative application is legitimate.

18. Our business has already established a UK branch, can I still apply?

If your business has an existing branch in the UK and they are established and functioning then you cannot apply for a sole representative visa. However, if the Branch exists as only a legal entity that has a bank account, identified business premises, and has not hired any employees and/or not begun any trading activities, then you can be admitted in the UK on a sole representative visa. 

19. Does the overseas business need to have any particular level of turnover or profit?

There is no monetary requirement of any particular level from the parent company. Any company with any amount of turnover is valid to send their sole representative visa to the UK if the company is based out of the UK and is a legally operating business. 

However, the parent company should be able to show that it is viable for them to establish a branch in the UK and they will have sufficient funds to afford this.

20. What sort of business activities can the UK entity undertake?

Any branch that is set up in the UK should provide the same products or services as its parent company. The type of business should remain the same.

21. Can a sole representative be a shareholder of the UK branch or subsidiary?

No, the sole representative cannot be a shareholder because if they need an extension for their visa as a sole representative, all shares will have to be owned by the parent company only.

However, there were instances where sole representatives failed to open a UK business bank account for the branch unless the shares are owned by a UK resident due to the banks’ regulations. In this cases, you may require bespoke legal advice.

22. How will the Home Office approach the centre of business operations test?

This will only be considered if your services and talents are the driving force behind the company. Also, if your business will cease its operations outside the UK and most of your senior employees will have to be based out of the UK itself too. This will also be based on the fact if you are a major shareholder in the firm or not. 

23. Can I be employed by the UK branch or subsidiary in the UK?

Yes, you can be employed by the UK branch or subsidiary. It doesn’t have to be done immediately. The only employment you need to be sure of is with the parent company. Later, when you are hired by the UK branch but are not the sole executive for the same then you will have to switch from the sole representative visa to skilled worker visa. 

24. Will I be able to work for another company in the UK?

No, you cannot work for any other business in any capacity, not even freelance in the UK on this visa category. You can only work for your parent company. 

25. Can a sole representative bring family members to the UK?

A sole representative visa allows you to bring your immediate family like your spouse or partner and dependent children under 18 years old. No extended family members are allowed. However it should be noted that spouses and partners of Sole Representatives who own or control a majority of the overseas firm are not eligible to apply for entry as the dependant partner of a Sole Representative. 

26. What documents do I need to provide in support of my application?

Under this category the document requirement and the formats they need to be submitted in are quite strict. It would be advisable for you to connect with our AYJ solicitors to better understand this question. Major list of documents can be found here

27. Where can I find out more about the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa?

For more information you can contact AYJ Solicitors or visit our website. 

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