Sole Representative Visa For Overseas Businesses

The Sole Representative Visa For Overseas Businesses has been replaced by the UK Expansion Worker visa, and the Overseas Business Representative Visa for certain media workers. We can advise on the current UK visa options for representatives of overseas companies.


The UK’s Sole Representative visa is no longer open for new applications.

To come to the UK to establish operations for an overseas company, you should look at the UK Expansion Worker visa. If you are an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation posted on a long-term assignment to the UK, you should look at the Representative of an Overseas Business Visa.

Existing Sole Representative visa holders can apply to extend their visa, or for ILR if eligible.


Is it possible to extend a sole representative visa?

Sole representative visas are initially granted for a period of 3 years and can be extended by a further 2 years on application.

Looking further ahead, the sole representative may qualify to settle in the UK permanently after 5 continuous years in the UK.

To be eligible for an extension, the company would need to show it satisfies certain criteria.

The company headquarters and principal place of business has to remain outside the UK.

The sole representative will need to show they:

  • are employed full time as a representative of the overseas entity and is still required for the employment in question;
  • have established and are in charge of the overseas entity’s UK branch or wholly-owned subsidiary;
  • have generated business, principally with businesses in the UK; and
  • can maintain and accommodate and any dependants adequately without recourse to public funds.

What happens once the UK operation has been established?

You have one month from the opening of our UK operation to register the entity with Companies House.

Once the branch or subsidiary has been set up, or other representatives are required in the UK, employees must apply under the UK points-based system. This requires the UK operation to apply for a sponsorship licence.

It is possible to admit a sole representative after a branch is established in the UK, as long as that branch exists only as a legal entity, has set up a bank account, and has identified and set up premises, and provided no staff are employed and the branch has not yet transacted any business.


We can help

DavidsonMorris are specialist advisers help companies and individuals meet their mobility needs across on all areas of UK business immigration.

Whatever your plans in the UK – if you are looking to set up a new business, invest in an existing enterprise or hire skilled talent from overseas, we can help, advising on the most appropriate entry routes and supporting with the application process.

Our legal experts are highly experienced in all areas of UK business immigration. For advice and guidance on your specific requirements, please get in touch.

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