Sole Representative / “Sole Rep”
Individuals and businesses looking to establish a UK office / branch / subsidiary should click here for an overview of some key information which may be relevant.
A sole representative is someone who will establish a wholly owned subsidiary or register a branch in the UK for an overseas parent company. The firm must have no branch, subsidiary or other representative in the UK. If the firm has a legal entity in the UK but this does not employ staff or transact business then it can send a sole representative to the UK under these rules. This is only available to (and would only be necessary for) non-EEA nationals.
This type of immigration category can only be applied for from a British Diplomatic Post overseas and a person in the UK under a different immigration category cannot “switch” into this category while remaining in the UK. This follows from the fact that the individual is a current employee of the established overseas business.
Aims of the provisions
The aim of these provisions is to allow representatives of companies to establish a commercial presence for their company in the UK in the form of a registered branch or a wholly owned subsidiary. The provisions do not allow individuals to do business of their own or represent any other company’s interests while in the UK.
The basic requirements to be fulfilled in this type of application are that the applicant:
- has been employed by the parent company “for some time” (there is not a specifically stated length of time in the rules) and holds a senior position;
- has authority to take decisions without reference to the parent company;
- has been recruited to the parent company from outside of the UK;
- is directly employed by the parent company and not acting as an agent of the company marketing the company’s goods;
- can maintain and accommodate him/herself and any dependents without help from public funds.
N.B. Majority shareholders of the parent company are not allowed entry clearance under this immigration category.
As always the application will only be as strong as the documentation provided in support of it. Obviously, suitable documentation will vary on a case by case basis and our consultants can provide reliable advice based on individual circumstances.
What happens if the company’s circumstances change?
If the individual has 2 years permission to be in the UK, they may stay here even if their overseas company appoints a superior. They may also eventually qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) as long as they continue to fill a genuine vacancy and the company wishes to retain the individual’s services in the UK.
A sole representative with less than 2 years’ permission to be here would need to apply switch to Tier 2 of the Points Based System (through the sponsorship of the UK organisation) in order to continue working in the UK if a superior was appointed.
Period of Stay
At first, the Home Office will give successful applicants permission to stay for 3 years. Individuals can apply for an extension of stay for up to another 2 years.
Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and permanent residence
After 5 years in the UK as a Sole Representative, individuals will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, otherwise known as settlement or permanent residence.
Other Useful Information:
- Entry Clearance processing time: Varies around the world
- Dependents: Spouse, unmarried partners and dependent children under 18
If you are interested in making an application to come to the UK as a Sole Representative, please contact us for initial advice on the strength of your case. You must have a clear business plan, and information regarding the overseas firm, in order for us to provide you with worthwhile feedback.