The changes in immigration laws in the UK are a cause for concern for many who conduct business or seek employment in the country. Now isn’t the time to make risky decisions. That’s why many companies that want to open a UK branch typically send a representative to get a feel for the market and to establish a presence. This person is what’s known as a sole representative who needs to secure a visa that will allow him to stay and perform his functions within the country.
How does a sole representative visa differ from other types of work visas?
Unlike a regular work visa, an overseas business representative visa benefits the entire company. In addition to businesses that want to open a brand in the UK, this type of visa also applies to employees of media companies or broadcasting agencies that plan to assign their employee abroad for an extended period.
How does one become eligible?
These are the basic eligibility requirements for a person applying to get a sole representative visa:
- The company’s headquarters must be outside the UK, and the person applying is an existing employee.
- The individual should hold a senior position in the company, and the business shouldn’t have any existing subsidiaries or branches in the UK.
- Should be given complete authority to decide on behalf of the company and act as a representative to establish the branch.
All these requirements should be supported with notarised documents that show business activity, share distribution, and account statements. Apart from the basic requirements, the applicant should also meet the recommended English language standard. Also, the applicant should be able to prove their financial capability to support their stay in the UK, including any family member who may accompany them.
It’s essential to keep in mind that only one sole representative per company is allowed to hold a visa. In case the company needs to send another employee to the UK, they’ll need to apply for a Tier 2 business licence.
How do you know that sending a sole representative is the right fit for your business?
The overseas representative visa category is ideal when the employee needs to stay in the UK for at least three years – with the option to apply for an extension that will last for another two years. However, under the following circumstances, it may be a better option to consider applying for a Tier 2 business licence instead.
- The company already has an employee in the UK and needs to send another individual to represent the business.
- The responsibilities and role of the sole representative have changed, and the representative visa is no longer appropriate.
- Business activity has changed where the company has ventured into a different sector than previously declared.
- The main headquarters is no longer located outside the UK.
- The UK branch or subsidiary is no longer fully owned by the same company.
If any of these conditions apply, your immigration lawyer should advise further on the next steps that would best benefit your business.