Representative of an Overseas Business Visa Guide
Table of content
- Eligibility requirements for Newspaper, news agency or broadcast employees
- Eligibility requirements for Sole representatives
- English language requirement
- Financial requirement
- TB certificate
- Genuineness requirement
- The overseas business
- The UK establishment
- UK Employment status
- Application process and fees
- Conditions of permission to enter or stay
- Family members
- Switching to this visa
- Visa Extension
- Supporting documents
There are 2 types of representatives of an overseas business: Sole Representatives and Media Representatives; an applicant must therefore be one of them. You can apply to enter or stay in the UK as a representative of an overseas business if you’re either:
- a Sole Representative in the UK of an overseas business, who is a senior employee appointed to establish a UK trading presence by operating a registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of that overseas business or
- a Media Representative who is employed by an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation and is posted on a long-term assignment for them in the UK.
To be eligible for this visa you must:
- have enough money to support yourself without help from public funds
- meet the English requirement and
- meet other additional eligibility requirements.
Many of the eligibility requirements apply to both types, but there are some that only apply to one or the other. Depending on which type of representative the applicant is, they will need to meet additional eligibility criteria
Eligibility requirements for Newspaper, news agency or broadcast employees
As an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation, you can come to the UK if you’re being posted here on a long-term assignment.
The business must have, and intend to continue to have, its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK.
Eligibility requirements for Sole representatives
To apply as a sole representative, you must:
- be recruited and employed outside the UK by an active and trading business (whose headquarters and principal place of business are, and will remain, outside the UK)
- have the skills, experience and knowledge to do the role
- hold a senior position within the business (but do not own or control the majority of it) and have full authority to make decisions on its behalf
- intend to establish the overseas business’s first commercial presence in the UK, either as a registered branch or a wholly owned subsidiary
You may also be eligible if the business has a legal entity in the UK that does not employ staff or do any business.
If your employer has been working to establish a UK branch or subsidiary, but it is not yet set up, you can replace a previous sole representative.
If the overseas business wishes to employ 2 or more representatives, they cannot all be treated as a Sole Representative. One may be admitted, and then later apply for a sponsor licence to allow other employees to join them under the Skilled Worker or Intra-Company routes of the points-based system. However, an overseas media company can have more than one Media Representative in the UK at the same time.
A Sole Representatives cannot be:
- an agent hired to market the business’s products in the UK,
- a sales representative or buyer who only fulfils that role for the business: however, senior sales staff who are also responsible for other functions, for example, marketing and distribution, may qualify as a sole representative of an overseas business or
- a secretary or personal assistant accompanying a Sole Representative.
All applicants must have a level of English language equivalent to level A1 or above of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework for Language Learning (CEFR).
You can prove your knowledge of English by either:
- passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening
- having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by Ecctis (formerly UK NARIC) as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD
You will not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the listed majority speaking countries.
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You must satisfy the Home Office that you are able to adequately maintain and accommodate yourself and your dependants in the UK without access to public funds.
There is no specified amount of money that an applicant must have available, but any evidence of the applicant’s finance must be provided.
An applicant must provide a valid tuberculosis (TB) certificate with their application, if they have been residing within a country listed in Appendix T of the immigration rules, for the 6 months immediately preceding the application.
You must also satisfy the Home Office that you are a genuine representative of an overseas business. Very often, applications are met with suspicion that the applicant may not be genuine or is complicit in taking the role primarily as a means to obtain permission for entry clearance or to stay in the UK.
In order to assess this, the Home Office may request additional information or undertake an interview.
In assessing the genuineness of the applicant, the Home Office will consider the following facts, whether:
- you have been recruited and employed outside the UK by the overseas business in a senior job role,
- the company has a track record of setting up branches or subsidiaries for other businesses,
- you have the authority to negotiate and take operational decisions once in the UK, as indicated by your role in the overseas business’s hierarchy.
The overseas business
The overseas business must be a genuine active and trading commercial enterprise with its principal place of business outside the UK.
The Home Office will consider:
- its turnover: this must demonstrate the business is actively trading
- its registered offices: these must be outside the UK
- the type of business: this must be the same as the intended branch or wholly owned subsidiary in the UK
They may also consider:
- its employees: this will indicate the size of the overseas business and may indicate whether it will maintain its primary place of business outside the UK once the branch or wholly-owned subsidiary has been established.
- its presence in other countries besides the one in which it has its headquarters – this may indicate a track record of international expansion whilst retaining a presence in the country of origin.
- its finances, market share in its country of operation, and plan for expansion to the UK.
The overseas business must intend to keep its main centre of business abroad; it follows that the application may be refused if it appears that it is clear that the intention is to move the main centre of business to the UK and effectively cease trading outside the UK.
The overseas business must intend to operate a branch or wholly-owned subsidiary in the UK in the same business as the overseas business.
The UK establishment
The UK establishment must be compliant with UK law and in most cases must register with Companies House within one month of opening. This UK establishment must be the same type of business as the parent business overseas, so it must supply the same or similar products and services. For example, an overseas manufacturing business can establish a UK branch or subsidiary for the sale or servicing of their products in the UK.
A Sole Representative applicant must be applying for the purpose of creating and supervising a UK establishment that is owned by the overseas business they represent. The UK establishment can be either a branch or subsidiary. If they already have permission in this route and are applying to extend their stay, the UK establishment must already be operational.
A registered branch is part of a company organised to conduct business on behalf of the parent company. This enables someone in the UK to deal directly with the branch here instead of the overseas business in its home country.
A subsidiary is a separate corporate body that is wholly-owned by the overseas business but is otherwise treated as an independent company incorporated in the UK.
UK Employment status
As Sole Representative you must be an employee subject to an employment contract and the terms and conditions of your employment in the UK must comply with your employment rights under UK law.
A Sole Representative cannot be a self-employed person who works for the overseas business, even if they are providing their services to that business under contract. If they are a director (or other office holder) of the business they represent, they must also be an employee with a genuine employment contract.
It is possible for a founder of a business to also be an employee in some circumstances (for example, they may have founded a business and then subsequently sold their shares to an investor but continued to hold a role in the business).
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Application process and cost
You must apply online and will need to have your fingerprints and photograph (known as ‘biometric information’) taken at a visa application centre as part of your application.
If you apply from outside the UK, a Representative of an Overseas Business visa costs £610 and if you apply from inside the UK, you’ll need to pay £704.
You must also pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.
You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.
If you apply from inside the UK, you will get a decision within 8 weeks.
You may get your visa decision faster if you pay extra cost however this depends on what country you’re in. Check with your visa application centre if they offer faster decisions and other services.
Conditions of permission to enter or stay
Permission to enter is granted for 3 years and the leave can be extended for further 2 years before being eligible for settlement.
Permission to enter or stay under this route is subject to the following conditions:
- no access to public funds
- bring your family (‘dependants’) with you to the UK
- must register with the police, if required
- work only as a representative for the business which you have been admitted to represent
- study (with no limit on the number of study hours if it doesn’t interfere with the job you have been sponsored to do)
Your family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the UK on this visa.
A ‘dependant’ is either your husband, wife or partner or your child under 18.
A dependant partner of a Sole Representative cannot own or control a majority of the overseas business that the lead applicant represents.
Dependants can undertake any work (except as a professional sportsperson) and can study
If you have children while you’re in the UK, you can apply online to add them to your visa as your dependant.
An applicant can switch from another immigration category into the representative of an overseas business category if they are already in the UK, unless they have, or last had permission:
- as a Visitor
- as a Short-term Student
- as a Parent of a Child Student
- as a Seasonal Worker
- as a Domestic Worker in a Private Household
If the applicant has or last had permission as a Sole Representative and is applying to extend your stay, you must satisfy the Home Office that you:
- have established and registered the branch or subsidiary of the overseas business you represent
- are engaged full-time as the supervisor of that branch or subsidiary
You must provide the evidence and documents of the business activities in the UK.
When applying as a sole representative of an overseas business you’ll need to provide:
- a current passport
- evidence that you can support yourself and any dependants during your stay, for example bank statements or payslips for the last 6 months
- proof that you meet the English requirement
- a full description of the business’s activities, including details of assets and accounts.
- a letter confirming the overseas business will set up a wholly owned subsidiary or register a branch in the UK in the same business activity as it runs overseas.
- your job description, employment contract and salary details.
- a letter confirming you’re familiar with the business and have the power to take operational decisions.
You should also provide evidence that you:
- are directly employed by the business and are not acting as a sales agent (for example, hired by a business to sell or distribute their products within the UK, but working for yourself and providing your services for a fee)
- were recruited to the business outside of the UK
- hold a senior position in the business, with the authority to make decisions on its behalf and set up and run a registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary
- will be working full time for the business or subsidiary for the duration of your stay and will not carry out any other work
- do not own or control a majority of the overseas business
Newspaper, news agency or broadcast employees
As an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation you must also provide:
- a full description of the parent company’s activities, including details of assets and accounts
- confirmation that you will be representing them in the UK in a long term, full-time role
If you have a question about your visa, we can help. Immigration Rules are complex and given the effort required to make the application and the level of Home Office non-refundable fees, it is important that you proceed with the best advice. We can advise on the options available and can support you through the process.
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This visa is a subcategory of the standard visitor visa enabling visitors only to get married in the UK and leave the country on the expiry of their visa; it should not be confused with fiancée visa which is intended to those who want to settle in the UK after their wedding.