Overseas companies who intend to establish their operations in the UK are able to send a representative from your organisation who can set up a company branch in the UK. The representative will be solely responsible for the operations of the company in the UK.
Requirements for a Sole Representative Visa
- You must be from outside EEA and Switzerland
- You must be recruited and employed by a company outside the UK. The company is considered to be fit if they have headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK.
- You must hold a senior position in the company. However, you cannot be a major shareholder/director in the company which means they cannot be holding more than 50% shares of the company.
- You must have full authority to make operational decisions on the company’s behalf in the UK.
- You must intend to work full time for your employer to establish the first commercial presence in the UK, for example establishing a registered branch or a wholly owned subsidiary of the company.
You may also be a sole representative if the company has a legal entity in the UK which does not employ staff or does not transact any business in the UK. If your company has already been making efforts to establish a UK branch or subsidiary, but so far no branch or subsidiary has been set up, in that case, you can replace a previous sole representative.
Moving employees to the UK
Businesses overseas can send their employees to the UK through Tier 2 ICT or Business Visit visa options. The choice of choosing the visa category will be determined by a number of factors which includes the role of the employee in the company and role they will perform in the UK, the nature of the activity they have to carry out, the time they plan to spend in the UK and also the status of the company’s operations in the UK.
How long it takes and how long can you stay
You can apply the earliest 3 months before you travel to the UK. Once you apply from the outside UK, you should get a decision on your visa application within 3 weeks.
Once you are granted Sole Representative Visa, you can come to the UK for 3 years initially and you may extend your visa for 2 more years, provided you meet the requirements for an extension. After you complete 5 years in the UK, you can apply for permanent settlement/Permanent Residence/ Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.
What you can do and what you cannot do
As a sole representative in the UK, you can work full time for your employer. You can also bring your family to the UK and you can extend your visa multiple times.
However, with Sole Representative Visa, you cannot work for yourselves or any other company or business. If the sole representative arrangement is ended by your employer then you cannot stay in the UK anymore. You cannot switch from any other visa category to this visa category and you are not allowed access to the public funds in the UK.