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Sole Representative of an Overseas Business Visa

Set up a UK branch or subsidiary of an overseas parent company. UK visa for the whole family. No initial investment.
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Citizenship guide
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What is Sole Representative Visa?

If you have been working in a senior position in a company outside the United Kingdom which is intending to register a branch or subsidiary in the UK and appoint you as their sole representative there, it is your chance to run and manage that branch. There is no investment required, but you need to show your level of English.

Representative visa leads to settlement and eventually to British citizenship. All you need to do is to open a company, appoint yourself a director there and start developing the business in the UK and other markets. Make sure you are not involved in any other business and keep taking an active part in the UK company’s daily operations.

Benefits of UK Sole Representative visa

Representative visa is a work visa but without the need to look for a job. Great start, isn’t it? It is basically a transfer from the headquarters abroad to a UK subsidiary. Yes, you have been one of the top managers in the parent company, but here you get your own company to run daily and develop the business in a completely new market. And on top of that you will not pay a penny out of your pocket.

Requirements for Sole Representative visa

A parent company must be incorporated and operating from abroad, and you must be a senior staff member hired abroad with the power to take decisions. A crucial thing to remember is you cannot be a majority shareholder in that company. You are also required to prove you have relevant experience, skills and education necessary to run and manage the UK branch. You must work for the company full-time and not be employed anywhere else.

Other requirements

  • Business plan (it is not mandatory but advisable as it will show the viability and authenticity of your business and your role in it).
  • Sufficient financial means to maintain yourself and your family without receiving state benefits during the whole duration of your stay.
  • English language test (minimum level A1).
  • Tuberculosis test (depends on the country you are from).

How long it takes to apply for a Representative visa

It is one of the most time-consuming visas to prepare. It normally takes 4–8 weeks to collect all the documents, open a company and prepare the application. The processing time is faster though; it will take around 3 weeks to get a decision. Sole Representative visa is initially given for 3 years and can be extended for another 2 years.

How to extend Sole Representative visa?

To extend a sole representative visa, you have to keep working as the sole rep of the parent company in the representative office operating from the UK, and you plan to stay in that role. Other requirements:

  • The UK office trades the same products and/or services as the parent company.
  • The parent company’s headquarters are still abroad.
  • You have sufficient funds to maintain yourself and your family the whole period of your stay.

VIP service

You can use the VIP service to extend a sole representative visa. In this case the Home Office will come to you to take your fingerprints and photograph. However, this does not put your application at the front of the queue.

Sole representative visa is extended for 2 years.

Apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)

Representatives can apply for settlement (or Indefinite Leave to Remain, ILR) in 5 years after their initial arrival into the UK if these years have been spent as a sole representative of an overseas business. You must show you have been running the business and plan to do so in the future. It normally takes 1-2 months to get a decision.

Requirements for applying for ILR

You must not spend outside the UK more than 180 days in any 12 calendar months during 5 years before applying for ILR. All dependants can be included in the application, even children over 18 if they are still relying on you for financial support. Other things you must prove:

  • You and all adult dependents hold an English speaking and listening qualification at level B1 or above.
  • You and all adult dependants have passed the Life in the UK test.

British citizenship and passport

You and your family can apply to be naturalised or registered as British citizens in 12 months after ILR is granted and 6 years after first entry under Representative of an Overseas Business visa, provided everybody meets all the eligibility criteria below. It normally takes 4-6 weeks to get a decision.

  • In 5 years prior to applying for citizenship you cannot spend more than 450 days outside the UK and more than 90 days in the last year.
  • Absence of criminal or administrative offence records.
  • Knowledge of the English language.
  • Life in the UK test.

Processes and timeline from initial visa to getting British passport

Sole Representative Business visa to UK

Initial consultation and signing Client Agreement
Timeframe: 1 day
Our immigration lawyers will evaluate your circumstances and provide you with detailed information about the Sole Representative visa requirements. You can have initial consultation in our office or remotely. To prepare client agreement we will only need a scanned copy of your passport and your address.
Preparation and submission of documents
Preparation: 4 – 8 weeks
All the supporting documentation will be drafted, checked and prepared in accordance with the UK Immigration Rules. We will also complete all application and other forms and submit them on your behalf. Most importantly, we will write a cover letter to reflect your circumstances and showing that you fulfil all the requirements for a Sole Representative visa.
Visa granted and arrival to the United Kingdom
Processing: 2 – 4 weeks
The Home Office usually makes the decision within 3 weeks of application. Once your visa is granted the documents will be sent to you and you can make the first entry to the UK. At Imperial & Legal we will help you relocate smoothly. We can assist with property search, looking for schools for your children, opening bank accounts and sorting out other matters for you and your family.
Apply for a Sole Representative visa extension
Processing: 6 – 8 weeks
We will check if you are eligible and comply with all the requirements for extension. We will make sure that all documents are carefully drafted, translated, certified and legalised as required by the UK Immigration Rules. We will also complete all the application forms and submit them on your behalf.
Apply for permanent residence
Processing time: 2 – 6 months
You can apply for permanent residence (ILR) 5 years after your first entry to the UK, providing you meet all requirements. Our immigration lawyers will make sure you have passed an English test to a required level and a Life in the UK test. We will calculate your absences from the UK and check them against the permitted amount. We will also prepare all the documents to show you and your business meet all the criteria for settlement.
Get British Passport
Processing: 1 –2 months
You can apply for British citizenship 12 months after you have been granted ILR. To be eligible you must not have spent more than 450 days outside the UK in the previous 5 years and not more than 90 days during the 12 months prior to application. First, we will prepare and submit your naturalisation application. Once it is approved, we will book your citizenship ceremony where you receive your certificate of naturalisation and then we will apply for your British passport.


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We have been helping successful entrepreneurs worldwide to obtain a Sole Representative visa. Contact us to start your application today.

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