Establishing a business presence in the UK – the sole representative visa

Published on: 15/09/2017


Clarkslegal's immigration lawyers have recently seen an increase in enquiries from successful overseas business owners who wish to establish a business presence in the UK. Such individuals have explored the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa route but either do not want to live in the UK or do not wish to make a large investment, such as the £200,000 required under the Entrepreneur route.

Nevertheless, these business owners wish to expand their operations in the UK, which would, for the time being, allow them access to EU markets without any trade barriers. To attract foreign investment, the UK government offers a variety of visas.

International businesses with no presence in the UK, can send a ‘representative’ to the UK via a ‘representative of an overseas business visa’ or as is commonly known, the ‘sole representative’ visa. The intention would be for this individual to establish and operate a registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary of the overseas business.

The sole representative must demonstrate that he/she is a senior employee who will be employed full time, with full authority to take operational decisions on behalf of the overseas business. Such an individual will be required to have extensive industry related knowledge and experience.

The application fee is a mere £587 and the individual would need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. Visas are initially granted for a 3 year period but can be extended for a further 2 years. After 5 years, the individual can apply for settlement and thereafter naturalise as a British citizen. Sole representatives can bring their family members with them to the UK.

If you would like to explore the sole representative visa route, please get in touch with Clarkslegal business immigration lawyers. We specialise in helping clients set up businesses in the UK, obtain the correct visa permission and ensure as employers they comply with their statutory obligations.  


This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking professional and legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.