Having just returned from a business trip to China, I was surprised at the number of enquiries I had regarding alternatives to the Tier 1 programmes and which looked to explore business visas for those companies who were considering expansion into the UK Markets. It seemed to me that the category of sole representative of an Overseas Company was less well known than one might imagine.
To qualify for this category someone must be employed by the overseas company and intending to come to the UK to open a subsidiary of the existing overseas company in the UK. They cannot however be a majority shareholder and must intend to be wholly employed in the establishment of the UK subsidiary.
It is a simpler route than the better known visa categories of Tier 1 Investor or Tier 1 Entrepreneur and less evidentially burdensome.
When applying as a sole representative of an overseas company you’ll need to provide:
- a full description of the parent company’s activities, including details of assets and accounts
- a letter confirming the overseas company will establish a wholly-owned subsidiary or register a branch in the UK in the same business activity as the parent company
- your job description, employment contract and salary details
- a letter confirming you’re familiar with the company and have the power to take operational decisions
You should also provide evidence that you:
- are directly employed by the parent company and aren’t acting as a sales agent (ie hired by a company to sell or distribute their products within the UK, but working for yourself and providing your services for a fee)
- were recruited to the company outside of the UK, hold a senior position and are able to make decisions on its behalf and have the authority to establish and operate a registered branch
- will be working full time for the company for the duration of your stay and won’t carry out any other work
- are not a majority shareholder in the company.
Unlike the Tier 1 Entrepreneur route, there is no genuine entrepreneurial test nor a need to provide a business plan. That being said however, obviously the more documents that can be provided attesting to the present Overseas business concern active and trading activity will clearly be beneficial to any application.
Applicants who pursue this route are granted entry for a period of 3 years which can then be extended for a further 2 years ultimately resulting in permanent residency , provided the specifics of the rules are met. Family members may join applicants.
The relative Immigration Rules are here, 144 - 151.