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Sole Representative visa: the 3 most common problems

The Sole Representative of an overseas company visa allows a company overseas to send a senior employee to the UK with the view of setting up a UK branch of an existing company or a wholly own subsidiary of that company. 

In order to be eligible for this visa, you must be recruited from outside the UK and employed outside the UK by the company who is intending on setting up in the UK.  You must be experienced in your field and be a senior employee of the company who has full authority to make decisions on behalf of the company.  The company’s intention must be to establish a commercial presence in the UK, with the visa applicant being responsible for this.

The applicant must be able to speak English to level AI of the European Common Framework (CEFR) as a minimum requirement.  If you are applying from certain countries listed in Appendix T of the Immigration Rules you will need to have a tuberculosis test.  The applicant will need to show that they are able to financially maintain themselves and any dependents.

The common problems that applicants encounter:

  1. You own a significant share of the business overseas

This route is not for business owners, but for employees of companies to come to the UK and set up an entity in the UK.  As such the Home Office look for business owners masquerading as employees.  The Entry Clearance Office will want information on who the shareholders of the parent company are.  In the United Arab Emirates, the entry clearance officer is likely to be aware that it’s customary for Emirate nationals to hold 50% shares of companies owned truly by non-Emirate nationals.  Therefore, the entry clearance officer is likely to find that you’re a significant owner even if you do not own 50% the shares.

  1. Insufficient evidence of employment

Some countries have different documentary systems or receive funds in different ways to the UK. It’s common in China, for example, for applicants to not have payslips or proof of regular payments into their bank account which would evidence employment for the parent company.  It is possible to find alternative ways of documenting proof of employment, however, the entry clearance officer would normally need to provide evidence of regular benefit received from the company.

  1. Failure to properly document the intentions of the company

It is expected that if you are setting up a subsidiary company in the UK, then you will have proper plans for this, and these will be detailed. It’s not a requirement of the Immigration Rule that a business plan is submitted with the application, however, failure to properly identify the intentions of the company may cause the entry clearance officer to suspect the genuineness of the application.

It is therefore recommended that at least a brief business plan is submitted showing how the UK entity fits in with the future plans of the parent company.

In summary

In summary, there are key objective tests that need to be met: such as having a minimum amount of money for maintenance, meeting the English language requirement and meeting the TB requirements as necessary. The structure of the company and the employee, employer relationship needs to be looked at prior to the application and a full picture created about ownership and how the employee has authority to make major decisions within the UK.  The entry clearance officer must also be given a full picture of the intentions of the company and how the UK arm fits into the wider picture for the firm.

Secure your Sole Representative visa

Westkin Associates is a leading immigration law firm with specialist lawyers who have practised every aspect of immigration law. We have had great success with Sole Representative visas and can help secure your visa.

Contact us at: 020 7118 4546 or email us at

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