Sole Representative of an Overseas Business

The Sole Representative visa is specifically designed for companies that wish to send one key individual to the UK in order to establish a branch or representative office for an overseas company.

At JMW, we have strong experience in assisting companies with sole representative visa applications, so much so that we are accredited by the Department of International Trade and are a member of its advisory panel.

To speak to a solicitor about applying for a sole representative visa, contact us by calling +44(0)345 872 6666, or by filling in our online enquiry form so a member of the immigration team can get back to you.

How JMW Can Help

Our dedicated inward investor support team is able to assist with navigating the UK immigration rules pertaining to the establishment of a company in the UK and the transfer of foreign workers. 

We work closely with an impressive range of contacts so that you are able to benefit from a bespoke service, tailored to your individual needs.

How to Qualify for a Sole Representative Visa

In order to qualify for this type of visa, the staff member must be employed by a firm that has its headquarters and principal place of business outside of the UK, and does not already have a branch, subsidiary or another representative in the UK.

The employee must be a senior member of staff who is intended to be employed full time. They must also have full authority to take operational decisions on behalf of the overseas firm for the purpose of representing it in the UK by establishing and operating a registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of the business. The company must also demonstrate a genuine business need to establish a UK brand/subsidiary office.

The chosen employee cannot be a majority shareholder in the overseas firm. If they are a majority shareholder, or have shareholdings in excess of 50% in the parent company, applications are likely to result in rigorous scrutiny of the application and be refused.

If the employee has been newly recruited specifically to start a UK office, they will need to demonstrate a strong background that makes them particularly well-suited to the role.

The visa is granted for an initial period of two years, which then may be extended for an additional period or periods of up to three years.

FAQs

How long is the application process for a sole representative visa?

Given that applications for this type of visa can only be made from outside of the UK, if the application is deemed to be simple, it will probably be processed by UK Visas and Immigration within 15 working days, or within five days if applying under the priority service. 

Where an application is deemed to be complex, or needs to undergo particularly rigorous scrutiny, it may take several weeks to process.  

Can spouses and dependants join sole representatives in the UK?

Your spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner and dependent children under the age of 18 years may apply to join a sole representative in the UK. Dependants will be granted the same period of leave as the main applicant and will be able to work without restriction in the UK.

Can sole representatives apply for permanent residence in the UK?

At the end of successfully completing a five-year period on this type of visa, the holder can - subject to certain requirements - qualify to apply for permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain. 

What if a UK branch/subsidiary has already been established?

Sole representative visas are only available to overseas firms that have no branch, subsidiary or presence in the UK. 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 entity and has not started to trade yet.
 

Document Checking Service

If you are planning to submit your own visa application but are not fully certain that you have provided the right documents or the correct information, our Document Checking Service is an excellent opportunity to receive legal advice and identify any weaknesses or mistakes before your application is submitted.

With constantly evolving legislation and rules, our immigration team can help you navigate the often confusing maze of UK immigration law.

In addition with the ever-increasing cost of Home Office fees, a simple omission or oversight may result in your application being refused, which could have serious implications, both financially and on your chances for future settlement or applications for naturalisation as a British Citizen.

If you would like to discuss your case or arrange an appointment, contact us now.

Talk to Us

If you’re looking to apply for a sole representative visa, our expert solicitors are here to help. Contact us today by calling +44(0)345 872 6666, or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of the immigration team will get back to you.

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JMW Solicitors LLP

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0203 675 7600