An initial Representative of an Overseas Business visa grants entry for 3 years, which can then be extended for another 2 years. After you’ve been in the UK for 5 years, you can apply for permission to settle permanently in the UK.
The overseas representative visa, also known as the sole representative visa, can be granted to individuals who hold a senior position within a company whose headquarters are outside of the UK. These companies are planning to set up representation in the UK, where this individual is appointed to be the sole representative of this company in the UK and responsible for running the business. No investments are required for this type of visa, although there are a set of requirements to be met.
Entry clearance applications
There are certain requirements to be met when applying as a Sole Representative:
- Applicants must be recruited and employed outside the UK by a company whose headquarters and principal place of business are outside the UK.
- Applicants must hold a senior position within the company (but not be a majority shareholder) and have full authority to make decisions on its behalf.
- Applicants must intend to establish the company’s first commercial presence in the UK, e.g. a registered branch or a wholly owned subsidiary.
- Applicants must be employed full-time as the sole representative of that overseas business.
- Applicants must meet the English language requirement which requires applicants to have obtained at least CEFR Level A1 in speaking and listening.
Sole Representative visa extensions
Sole Representative visa holders can extend their stay in the UK if the above and following conditions are met:
- The overseas business must still have its headquarters and principal place of business outside of the United Kingdom.
- Applicants must be employed full time as a representative of that overseas business, have established it and be in charge of its registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary.
- The employer’s principal place of business should be outside the UK.
- Applicants must be in receipt of a salary from their employer and must be able to provide the required evidence of this.
- Applicants must be able to provide evidence that they have generated business, principally with firms in the UK, on behalf of their employer since their last grant of leave.
- Applicants must be in the UK to extend their visa.
Indefinite Leave to Remain Applications
Sole Representative visa holders can apply for ILR in the UK if the above and following conditions are met:
- Applicants must prove that their employer is based overseas and still actively trading, and that at the time of submitting their ILR application, they must have permission to remain in the UK as a sole representative.
- Applicants must demonstrate that they have lived in the UK without recourse to public funds throughout the 5 years.
- Applicants must not have spent more than 180 days outside of the UK in any 12-month period.
- Applicants must have passed the Life in the UK Test.
- Applicants must meet the English Language requirement, which can be done by passing a language test in conformance with B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (This will be updated after Brexit). There are certain set exemptions for meeting the English Language requirement.
Residency Requirements and Time Spent Outside the UK:
- If applicants do not intend to settle in the UK then no residency requirements are set, and they may extend their visa for 2 years after the initial clearance has expired.
- Those wishing to apply for permanent residency (ILR) are not permitted to spend more than 180 days outside of the UK, in any rolling 12-month period.
- For UK citizenship, applicants must not have spent more than 450 days outside of the UK for a 5-year period, and no more than 90 days during the 12 months period prior to application.
- The earliest that applicants can submit visa requests is 3 months prior to travel to the UK.
- Applicants can pay for a Priority Service to receive a decision within 5 working days.
- Non-priority processing times for entry clearance applications are approximately 3 weeks, if submitted from the country of residence, or approximately 8-12 weeks for those switching their visa and currently residing in the UK. Time varies depending on whether or not the applicant is invited for an interview at the Home Office.