Sole representation - representing an overseas company in the UK
The Sole Representative immigration category allows an individual to come to the UK to set up a UK branch or subsidiary on behalf of an overseas company, where the overseas company does not already have a representative in the UK and will continue to have its principle place of business outside the UK. Applicants seeking to enter the UK in this capacity must first obtain entry clearance from a British diplomatic post overseas before travelling to the UK.
The individual who will represent the company in the UK as the Sole Representative must be someone who is an existing senior employee of the overseas company. Someone can be recruited specifically for this role but they would have to be recruited overseas and have a track record of setting up branches for other companies. The individual cannot be a majority shareholder in the overseas company but must be senior enough to have full authority to take operational decisions in respect of the UK operation without referral to the parent business.
Sole Representatives of overseas companies are required to pass an approved English language test to the basic user standard (A1 of CEFR) or to have the equivalent of a UK bachelors degree that was taught in English.
The distinct advantage of this category is that the individual is not required to have any defined financial resources with which to establish the UK branch, as it is expected that the parent company would provide the necessary capital necessary. The personal financial consideration is that the individual must have adequate monies available to him or her to allow him or her to maintain and accommodate themselves and any dependants without recourse to public funds.
A Sole Representative must not intend to take any other employment and must intend to work full-time in their role as a representative of the parent company. There is no requirement that a minimum amount of money must be earned or that the individual must have a minimum level of educational attainment.
The initial leave is given for 3 years and that could be extended for further 2 years (or 3 years, if the applicant was last granted leave prior to 1 October 2009), at the end of which indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK can be sought. The applicant would have had to have spent five years in the UK as a sole representative before being eligible to apply for ILR and cannot count leave in any other categories towards the qualifying period. When applying for ILR the main applicant and any dependants over 18 must take and pass the Life in the UK test (dependants can alternatively pass ESOL with a citizenship syllabus) as well as holding a B1 (intermediate) level English language speaking and listening or its equivalent.
At the point of extension, evidence of the commercial activity of the UK company must be presented to show that the UK company has been set up and legally registered, and that it is active and trading in the UK, usually by way of company accounts, contracts, invoices, tax returns and so forth. There is no requirement however that the company must generate a minimum level of turnover but it must be evident that the company is stable enough to be able to support the Sole Representative and that it is an ongoing commercial enterprise. It must also be demonstrated that the overseas company has continued to have its main centre of operations outside the UK throughout the five year period, and that the conditions attached to the last leave have been adhered to.
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