Globalization and migration have made it easier for people to move from one part of the world to another, sometimes to even settle. And it’s on the back of this that the United Kingdom government has instituted various means by which foreign based companies or businesses can also easily setup branches or subsidiaries in the UK—and operate freely.
Contrary to popular conception, it’s very easy to register a branch or a wholly-owned subsidiary of your business/company in the UK—of course, with the help of a good solicitor who understands UK Home Office’s entry requirements.
So if you have a company in Ghana, Nigeria or any part of the world, you can set up a branch or subsidiary of the company in the UK—and have a representative (Sole Representative of an Overseas Business)be granted a visa to come and manage the set up in the UK on your behalf.
Eligibility for Entry in the UK as a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business
A business seeking to set up a branch or subsidiary in the UK under this route must be well-established in its home country. The business must then nominate one of its employees, termed as the Sole Representative who must meet the following requirements;
Must be an existing employee of the business which has its headquarters and main place of business outside the UK.
The employee must have been recruited abroad (not in the UK).
Must have full authority to take operational decisions on behalf of the overseas business when representing it by establishing and operating it.
Must not be a majority shareholder of the business the person is acting as a Sole Representative in the UK for.
This employee must provide documents to show the parent company’s business activities, statement of accounts and share distribution.
It’s required that the registered UK branch must be involved in the same type of business activity as the overseas business, or a wholly-owned UK subsidiary must be involved with the same type of business activity as the overseas business.
In order to easily secure the appropriate UK visa for the Sole Representative under this category, it must be shown that the overseas company intends to establish either a wholly-owned subsidiary or register a branch in the UK in the same business activity as the parent company, and the applicant is fully familiar with the company’s activities and has full powers to negotiate and take operational decisions without requesting permission from the parent company.
In order to be granted the required visa, the Representative must also meet the English language requirement and show that they can support themselves and any family members that accompany them to the UK.
As the name Sole Representative suggests, only one person can be considered to be a sole representative of an overseas company at anyone time. And as such, a notarised statement confirming that the applicant is the sole representative of the company, that the company’s main business activities will be centred overseas and the representative will work solely for the company and not undertake any activities in their own interest will be required.
Though this sounds straightforward and simple, before the Home Office grants a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa, it will carefully consider both the overseas and proposed UK business and its activities.
It’s therefore important that any company or business seeking a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa falls on an experienced immigration solicitor who can identify the strengths and weaknesses of any application and deal quickly and competently with questions from Home Office officials.
Why the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business Visa May Be Right for Your Business?
A lot of foreign businesses have a large number of UK based clients and also prospective clients. And to reach these clients or expand your market share mostly demands that you position your business close to these customers or at least provide a suitable representative near them for effective dealing.
Therefore, using the Representative of an Overseas Business category in situations where a selected person will be based in the UK on a long-term basis to serve the interest of the parent company or business is ideal for a lot of big businesses looking to tap into the huge UK market.
The visa lasts three years, with an opportunity for the representative to extend it for another two years.
This is a perfect opportunity for any business based abroad to expand and have a trusted representative operating a branch on its behalf in the UK.
Author: Daniel Koi, Solicitor at Kilic & Kilic Solicitors.
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