An initial visa to enter the UK as the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business is issued for three years. Here associate solicitor Nick Gore outlines the requirements that must be met by applicants who wish to extend their leave to remain in the UK.
The Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa is designed to allow a sole representative from an overseas company to establish a branch or subsidiary in the UK. We reviewed the requirements for an entry clearance application here.
During the initial period of leave in the UK, if they wish to remain, sole representatives must establish a wholly-owned subsidiary or register a branch in the UK carrying out the same business activity as the parent company, continue to be employed full time and continue to hold a minority of shares in the overseas parent company.
Before the end of the three-year period of initial leave, sole representatives and any dependants should apply to extend their leave. Further leave can be granted for two years and once applicants have resided in the UK for a period of five years, they can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
To meet the requirements for further leave to remain after the initial three years, also known as an extension of stay, applicants must provide supporting evidence and information about their business activities in the UK and the overseas parent company.
The overseas parent company
The sole representative must provide evidence that the overseas parent company is still active outside the UK and that they are still employed by the organisation. In general, they must demonstrate that:
- they are still a minority shareholder in the overseas parent company. Up to date financial accounts and reports may help to evidence this;
- the overseas parent company is still headquartered, and its principle place of business is still centred, outside of the UK. Evidence of the parent company’s activities may help demonstrate this;
- they are still the sole representative in the UK, have been employed full time and provide confirmation of how their salary was paid;
- they are still required for the employment in question; and
- they continue as a senior employee with full authority to take operational decisions.
The overseas parent company should provide a letter, similar to the one provided in the initial entry clearance application, which confirms these details. Any updated employment contracts or letters of assignment may also be helpful in demonstrating continued full-time employment, and examples of when the sole representative has taken operational decisions may be submitted.
Although the sole representative should also provide evidence about the branch or subsidiary, it can be helpful to set out the plans for the UK organisation and how the overseas parent company expects it to grow and expand.
The sole representative
The sole representative must demonstrate that they have been undertaking business activities in line with their original grant of leave. In general, they must demonstrate that they:
- have established and are in charge of its registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary;
- have generated business, principally with firms in the UK, on behalf of the overseas parent company. The evidence provided must be in the form of accounts, copies of invoices or letters from firms who the sole representative has conducted business with;
- are in receipt of a salary from the overseas parent company and can provide evidence of the salary paid in the previous 12 months;
- can maintain and accommodate themselves and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds; and
- intend to continue to work within the terms of their initial engagement.
Sole representatives must also provide a Companies House certificate of registration as a UK establishment (for a branch), or a certificate of incorporation (for a subsidiary). Evidence that the UK organisation is ultimately controlled by the overseas parent company must be demonstrated by providing either a copy of the share register or a letter from the company’s accountants.
There is also a requirement to demonstrate ‘adequate’ maintenance, a term which is quite vague. The term ‘adequately’ is defined in the interpretation section of the Immigration Rules as:
“adequate” and “adequately” in relation to a maintenance and accommodation requirement shall mean that, after income tax, national insurance contributions and housing costs have been deducted, there must be available to the family the level of income that would be available to them if the family was in receipt of income support.
In general, sole representatives should submit bank statements evidencing the last 12 months of salary, the last 12 months of payslips, as well as any savings accounts or investment accounts. As sole representatives should be paid a senior level salary, details regarding their income will be reviewed.
How we can help
We are experienced in preparing successful Sole Representative of an Overseas Business applications for individuals spanning a range of industries and sectors.
If you need further information or assistance in relation to this route, please contact us.