Those who are currently in the UK under the representative of an overseas business category (also known as ‘sole representative’) are eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’). This is once they have spent five continuous years in the UK and providing they have adhered to the conditions of their visa and meet the validity, suitability, and eligibility requirements.
Securing ILR means freedom from immigration control – the ability to live in the UK indefinitely and without restrictions. Here, we take a look at the requirements for a successful application.
Sole representative ILR application: validity and suitability requirements
All sole representative of an overseas business applicants applying for ILR, also known as settlement, must meet the general validity and suitability requirements set out in the Immigration Rules.
As well as the applicant demonstrating that they were last granted permission under the sole representative of an overseas business category, each applicant must:
- make the application from within the UK
- apply on the correct form
- pay the correct application fee
- provide biometrics
- satisfactorily establish their identity and nationality with a passport or other travel document
The application must also not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal as set out in part 9 of the Immigration Rules and must not be in breach of immigration laws or on immigration bail.
Sole representative ILR application: continuous residence
Applicants must have spent a period of five years’ continuous residence, also known as the ‘qualifying period’, in the UK with permission as a sole representative of an overseas business to be eligible for settlement. Continuous residence is assessed in accordance with Appendix Continuous Residence. In most cases, it will be broken where the applicant has been absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any 12-month period.
For any period of time the applicant has spent in the UK with permission which was granted under the rules in place before 11 January 2018, the absence requirement differs slightly. In such cases, the individual should not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any consecutive 12-month period. Each consecutive 12-months will end on the same date of the year as the date the online settlement application is submitted.
Sole representative ILR application: English language and Knowledge of Life in the UK
Those applying for settlement will need to have passed the Life in the UK test prior to submitting their application.
They must also demonstrate that they have English language skills in speaking and listening equivalent to level B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). This requirements can be met by passing an approved test or having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by ECCTIS as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or PhD. It should be noted that this level is much higher than that required for entry clearance or permission to stay applications.
However, those that are under the age of 18 or over the age of 65 are exempt from meeting these requirements, as are those who have a disability (physical or mental) which prevents them from completing the test.
Sole representative ILR application: work requirements
Throughout the qualifying period, the overseas organisation which the applicant is representing must have been active and trading with its headquarters and principal place of business continuing to be outside the UK at the date of the ILR application.
The applicant must have been employed and working full time for the overseas business they represent, or for the business’s UK branch or subsidiary, for the duration of their qualifying period. It will be necessary to demonstrate this by providing evidence of the salary paid. The Immigration Rules specifically require that evidence of 12 months’ salary is provided with the application. In addition, a letter will be required from the overseas organisation confirming that they still require the applicant to work for them in the UK for the foreseeable future.
The applicant must demonstrate that they established and have continued to oversee the registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary in the UK. They must also demonstrate that it is actively trading and conducting the same type of business as the overseas organisation. This will need to be demonstrated by providing evidence of the business that has been generated principally with businesses in the UK such as accounts and invoices.
A letter from the applicant’s employer will also need to be provided confirming that the applicant has been supervising the UK branch or wholly owned subsidiary since their last grant of leave.
It is also a requirement that an applicant applying for ILR must not have undertaken work for any other business or engaged in business of their own.
The applicant must also not have had a majority stake in, or otherwise controlled, a majority of the overseas business they represent. If they do own some of the overseas business, their minority stake can be demonstrated by providing evidence of share ownership with their application.
Making the application for Indefinite Leave to Remain
Those who are eligible, can apply by submitting an online application form. Following submission of the application, the applicant will need to provide biometrics at a UKVCAS application centre, or in some cases may be able to provide biometrics via the IDV App. A decision is usually made within 6 months but if the priority service is available, this may be reduced to either 5 working days after the biometric appointment or within 24 hours. The availability of priority services is updated here.
How our immigration solicitors can help
If you require legal advice on an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain, our immigration specialists are always happy to have an initial discussion, please contact us, or complete the enquiry form below.