The British market has always been desirable for foreign businesses. Although only 1% of companies are owned by foreigners, this tiny minority contributes 29% of UK gross value added. Of course, much of this is generated by the big names, such as Asda (which belongs to Walmart), Cadbury (a subsidiary of Mondelez International, formerly Kraft) and Jaguar Land Rover (owned by an Indian company, Tata Motors). Nevertheless, enterprising SMEs, as well as larger businesses from abroad, are constantly looking to set up branches or subsidiaries in the UK so they can access not only the domestic market but the EU as well.
For foreign organisations wanting to ‘dip their toe in’, the sole representative visa (officially known as the Representative of an Overseas Business Visa) provides an opportunity for employees of a foreign company to work in the UK. Not only is this visa frequently used in cases of companies preparing to set up a branch or subsidiary in the UK, it also provides media organisations with an ability to send foreign correspondents to work in Britain.
There are many requirements a company wishing to send an employee to the UK on a Representative of an Overseas Visa must meet.
The organisation must show that they are operating completely outside the UK at the time of application. They must also show reasonable grounds to establish a UK presence through their sole representative, and operate the same business activities in the UK as they currently do elsewhere.
The individual applying for the sole representative visa must submit the application from outside the UK. The individual must be able to financially support themselves and their dependents, without any recourse to public funds, and must work full-time for the organisation while in the UK. Proof of English language proficiency is required for those not coming from an English-speaking country.
The individual must also have evidence of business expertise, have a position of seniority in the organisation with full decision-making authority, and express intent to establish a business presence in the UK.
In the case of foreign correspondents, the applicant must be offered a long-term post in the UK by their foreign media employer.
Providing the correct documentation is essential to apply for a Representative of an Overseas Business Visa successfully. An experienced immigration solicitor can assist you and your organisation with collating the documents you will need to prove you are eligible. These include:
Sole representative visa holders are able to bring their family with them to live in the UK. They can apply to extend their visa beyond the initial timeframe, and use their time in the UK to qualify for settlement (Indefinite leave to remain). In addition, if your company’s circumstances change after you have been in the UK for more than two years (for example, they appoint a superior to assist you), you can remain in the country.
People working in this category are unable to work for themselves or another UK company. They cannot receive public funds, nor can they remain in the UK if the arrangement with their employer ceases. You are also forbidden from switching to another visa category such as a Tier 2 (General) Visa.
A Representative of an Overseas Business Visa lasts for three years. The visa can then be extended for a further two years provided the following conditions are met:
After you have completed five years on a Representative of an Overseas Business Visa, you may be able to apply for settlement. To qualify, you must:
If you have been convicted of a crime, you may have difficulty in obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain. An experienced immigration solicitor will be able to assist you with your application.
A Y & J Solicitors has prepared many successful sole representative visa applications. Our expert business solicitors will take the time to meet with you and find out about your organisation, and whether a Representative of an Overseas Business Visa is right for you and the business you work for. If it is, we can collate the necessary documents required to make a successful application and assist you with filling in the required forms correctly. The most common reason for UK Visas and Immigration to turn down visa applications is because of incorrect information being supplied and/or insufficient supporting documentation. We will ensure your time and application fee is not wasted and your application is processed smoothly.
Disclaimer: No material/information provided on this website should be construed as legal advice. Readers should seek an appropriate professional advice for their immigration matters.