The UK Immigration Rules provide that a company registered outside the European Economic Area (EEA) which has been operating for at least 12 months, has a good turnover and profitability, may have a common law gateway to set up in the UK by applying for a Sole Representative visa. The Sole Representative visa allows overseas businesses to open an outpost, branch or subsidiary in the UK by appointing a Sole Representative in the UK.
Appointment of the Sole Representative
As the Sole Representative of an overseas business, the Applicant must satisfy the following in order to submit a successful application to the UKVI:
- Employee must be recruited by the overseas company outside the UK;
- The employee must be a senior employee with full authority to take major decision on behalf of the headquarters or parent company overseas;
- Full-time employee of the overseas business reflected in a proper basic salary;
- Maintenance (there is no set amount for the maintenance required), accommodation and English language requirements must be also satisfied;
- Employee must spend a minimum 9 months per year in the UK, OR
- Not less than 4 months per year, if the absence can be justified by proof of genuine business needs and interests; and
- The visa application must be made from outside the UK, switching into this capacity from a different visa category is not an option.
The role of a Sole Representative in the UK must be a senior member of staff with a number of key responsibilities, and cannot be substituted with an agent or sales representative normally operating in one function. Decision-making power and abilities are crucial for qualifying as a Sole Representative. However, if the Sole Representative has a major shareholding, such as over 30%, questions would be raised whether the applicant is a driving force or the life of the company overseas. Although the Sole Representative must be one with authority and great responsibility, these cannot surpass that of the headquarters or parent company overseas. If the applicant is indeed a driving force of the head company overseas, the application may be refused as there are other business immigration routes which should apply, such as Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa. An advantage of this visa is that dependent family members of the Sole Representative may also apply to come to live and work in the UK. Dependents may also be able to switch into this visa if they are under a different visa unless they are on a visitor visa.
Genuine Commercial Enterprise under the Sole Representative Visa
The Sole Representative visa requires that the overseas headquarters or parent company should remain abroad, rather than to relocate to the UK. However, this does not preclude the scenario where the UK branch would become more successful to even overshadow the headquarters or parent company later on. The Applicant must produce evidence that the overseas company is a genuine commercial enterprise; otherwise, the Home Office would question whether there is genuine intention to set up a business in the UK or intention to circumvent the immigration law on Tier 1 visa application. The Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa is completely different to the Sole Representative visa, as the purpose of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa is to allow an overseas migrant to set up or take over an existing entity in the UK.
Using Legal Representation to submit a Sole Representative Visa
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to submit a Sole Representative visa application under the UKVI Immigration Rules.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your Sole Representative visa application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.
This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence in support of your visa application. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your Sole Representative visa application meets the Immigration Rules.
Successful Sole Representative visa application
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your visa application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation of your Sole Representative visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to successful immigration applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.