Sole Representative Visa UK

What is Sole Representative Visa

The Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa allows a top employee of an overseas firm to come to the UK and establish and operate a UK branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of the parent company. In the Representative of an Overseas Business visa category, indefinite leave to remain (ILR) can be obtained after 5 years.

  • For an employee to qualify for a UK Overseas Business Representative visa: 
  • The parent company must be an active and trading overseas business  
  • The overseas parent company must have, and intend to continue to have, its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK.  If the parent company already has a branch, subsidiary or other representative in the UK then the business will be excluded. 

Even where there is no representative in the UK, the business will be disqualified if the employee setting up the branch or subsidiary in the UK would involve the business effectively moving the centre of its business operations to the UK.

sole rep
sole rep

UK Sole Representative Visa Requirements

  • Applicants must be an employee or representative of a corporation based outside of the United Kingdom that does not have a branch, subsidiary, or other presence in the United Kingdom.
  • Applicants must be hired and working outside of the United Kingdom.
  • Applicants must have substantial expertise and understanding in the relevant field.
  • The applicant must be a senior employee with full authority to make operational decisions on behalf of the overseas company, such as opening a branch in the UK or forming a wholly-owned subsidiary.
  • The applicant cannot be the company’s majority shareholder, thus his or her shareholding must be less than 50%.
  • The applicant is not permitted to take any other job
  • The applicant must have sufficient income to support and accommodate themselves and their dependents (if any) without relying on the government aid; and the applicant must meet the English Language Requirement.


The UK Sole Representative visa applicant will need to meet the English Language requirements at level A1 of the Common European Framework Reference (CEFR). This requirement can also be met if the applicant has a degree acceptable by UK NARIC.

Initial Application

Once your Sole Representative Visa application is approved, you'll be able to enter the UK and stay for 3 years to expand your business, after which you can apply for a leave to remain to extend your stay.


In order to qualify for an extension of stay as a Representative of an Overseas Business, you will need to still be working for the same employer in the UK.


After five years in the UK as a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business, you may be eligible to apply for settlement.


After six years, applicants can be eligible to apply for British nationality.

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When deciding whether the applicant can be classified as a sole representative under the representative of an overseas business category, the Home Office UKVI will consider the following factors:

The sole representative must have:

  • been employed by the parent company in a senior position within the company
  • a track record of establishing branches for other companies, if they were hired specifically for this role
  • authority to make operational decisions once in the UK, as indicated by their position in the company hierarchy.

If a sole representative is still working for the same employer mentioned on their previous application as a sole representative of an overseas business, they can switch to a skilled worker visa category.

A sole representative visa is not offered to a majority shareholder in the parent company.

You can sponsor your dependants (spouse/partner and children under the age of 18) to accompany you to the UK or to join you later in the UK as your dependants.

If you meet the following qualifying criteria, you can apply for ILR as a sole representative of an overseas business:

  • You’ve spent the last 5 years in the UK as the sole representative of an overseas company on a UK visa;
  • You have met all of the requirements of an overseas business representative for the last 5 years, and you should continue to do so – this includes being employed throughout the period, as evidenced by P60s for the last 5 years and pay slips for the last 3 months, for example.
  • You must show that you have formed a branch that is registered as a UK establishment or subsidiary and that it has produced revenue.
  • You must produce proof that your employer is still in business and has its headquarters in another country.
  • In any 12-month period, you must spend no more than 180 days outside the UK (known as ‘continuous residency’).
  • You demonstrate that your employer still requires your services;
  • Except for any time of overstaying authorised under the Immigration Rules, you must not be in violation of immigration rules.

You should also

  • meet the English language requirements
  • pass the Life in the UK Test

As a sole representative of an overseas business, you can appeal the refusal of your entry clearance application by filing an administrative review of the decision.

If you already have a sole representative visa in the UK, you can apply for an extension or renewal by filling out the online application form FLR (IR).

As a result of a successful application for renewal of your sole representative visa, you will be granted further leave to remain for 2 years as a sole representative.

You can apply for ILR as a sole representative 28 days before completing 5 years residence in the UK with leave to remain as a sole representative. Your qualifying period can include time from the date your initial application for entry clearance was approved.

If your ILR application has been refused, you can reapply as a sole representative within 14 days of either the refusal of your ILR application or the Administrative Review (AR) judgement against the refusal of your ILR application. If your ILR application has been denied, our skilled team of immigration solicitors can assist you in preparing and filing a new application for ILR as a sole representative.

Need Help?

We have experienced business immigration solicitors, who provide prompt and cost-effective advice to any organisation employing staff from overseas. By making an appointment with one of our business immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.  We will assist you with all aspects of business immigration law, including applying for a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa.  If you wish to discuss, please phone our London office on 0207 242 1666 or contact us online.

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