A Sole representative or a representative of an overseas business is a direct employee of an overseas organisation who seeks to apply for a Sole representative visa in order to come to the UK and set up a permanent branch or an establishment on behalf of the overseas parent business.
A sole representative is directly involved in executive operations at the UK branch and decides the further growth and movement of the business.
While making your application for a Sole representative visa, the UK Home Office will review your application to check 3 most important eligibility conditions:
- You must be employed directly by overseas parent company and must hold a senior position in the organisation
- You are somebody who has a proven track record of setting up businesses and is fully trained to undertaker this task
- You have full authority to take independent decisions and possess strong ability to negotiate operational decisions while in the UK
- You are working full-time with your employer
- You possess English proficiency of A1 level.
Also, what you cannot be in your overseas business organisation
- The foremost thing the Home Office would want to know about you is that you should not be an agent or a part-time marketing person who has been solely hired to promote the overseas business in the UK.
- You must never be a sales or marketing agent whose job is to fulfill this role for the parent company on papers
- Lastly, you must never be the personal assistant or secretary of the business owner who decides to take up the role of the representative of the overseas business.
Who can you be?
You can be an employee who holds a senior position in the company, most preferably a senior manager, HR head, or operations manager, a senior sales staff, marketing and distribution head, etc.
In case your business organisation overseas thinks of sending two representatives to the UK to set up a big branch office, then in that case they won’t be able to send them on a sole representative visa.
Either of them must be sent as a sole representative and the other one can be sent on a skilled worker visa to join the parent company once the main representative applies for a sponsor licence to hire overseas skilled staff.
Holding stakes in the parent company
As a sole representative, you will also be scrutinised based on your shareholding account with your business organisation overseas.
What does this mean for you? It simply means that you must not be holding a majority of shares in the parent company while you are applying for a sole representative visa.
You must never be:
- Someone who own more 50% of the shares in the company
- Someone who controls more than 50% voting rights within the company
- Someone who is registered as a sole proprietor of the company
- Someone who is a self-employed person in the business
- Someone who is a registered partner with other owners of the company and shares 50% company profits.
It is of great importance to understand that you can neither be a direct shareholder nor indirect shareholder. For example, somebody on your behalf becomes the shareholder or partner in the company and then shares that commission with you outside the legal clause.
This will attract the threats of sole representative visa application rejection.
Another example to understand the shareholder’s eligibility, suppose you are a senior employee being considered for a sole representative, then as long as you hold shares less than 50% in the parent company, you will be considered. In many cases, the Home Office could interview you in order to clarify any stance regarding the majority shareholding within the organisation. For example, if you are holding 49% stakes, your application will be considered for further stages.
Employment terms as a sole representative
There must be a clear understanding and mention of the employer-employee relationship in the employment contract. The Home Office will assess you as per the following:
- Your job employment terms
- Your job description
- Your employers business plan
- The employer has allowed you to take decisions on behalf of the company in the UK
Visa term and renewal
Once granted the sole representative visa allows you to stay in the UK for 3 years and is further extendable to 2 more years at a minimum fee. You can take your dependents along with you. The Sole representative visa allows you to settle in the UK (gain ILR) with your dependents after 5 years and gain British citizenship after 6 years.
Seek expert advice
A Y & J Solicitors are immigration experts and legal advisors in the UK. Their bespoke immigration and visa services have helped thousands achieve their visa and immigration journey. Connect today for fast-track and bespoke services.