If you are looking to set up a branch or subsidiary in the UK for an overseas business and you are from outside of the EEA and Switzerland then this may be a suitable option for you as opposed to following the points-based system routes, which are more stringent.
The business must not have any active branch, subsidiary or other representative in the UK. The sole purpose of seeking entry is to set one up in the UK. The branch or subsidiary must operate in the same type of business activity as the overseas business. Please note only one person can act as the sole representative of the business in the UK.
The sole representative
- Must have been recruited and employed outside of the UK.
- A senior employee of an overseas business which has no active branch, subsidiary or other representative in the UK.
- Must have full authority to take operational decisions on behalf of the overseas business in order to establish and operate a registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary of that overseas business.
- Cannot be a majority shareholder in the overseas business. Guidance specifies that any employee who has a shareholding of 50% or more will be refused.
- Must have extensive knowledge and experience in your industry.
What must the sole representative show?
- That you will be working full-time as a representative of the business. There is no specified number of hours to show that you will be working full-time. However, you must show that you intend to dedicate the majority of your time to the business in the UK.
- You do not intend to take employment elsewhere.
- That you will not engage in any business of your own. This means that you do not have any businesses of your own in the UK that you will be required to dedicate your time to.
- You must be competent in English language by:
- passing an approved English language testwith at least CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening.
- having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD.
- you will be exempt if you are from a majority English speaking country.
- You will be able to maintain and accommodate yourself adequately without recourse to public funds.
- You cannot stay in the UK if your employer has ended your sole representative arrangement.
- You cannot work for yourself or your own business.
- You cannot claim public funds.
- You cannot switch to another category of visa.
When can you apply?
You can apply no more than 3 months before you intend to travel.
Duration of stay
You can stay in the UK for an initial period of 3 years and then you can extend you stay for a further 2 years. You will be eligible to apply for settlement after 5 years in the UK.
You will be able to bring your dependents such as spouse or children under the age of 18 with you. However, you must show evidence that you will be able to accommodate and maintain them without recourse to public funds.
Absences outside of the UK
Guidance illustrates that you are expected to remain in the UK for at least 9 months for every 12-month period.
Newspaper, news agency or broadcast employees
Under this category, you can also apply as an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation, if you are being posted to the UK on a long-term assignment.