To become more competitive in the post-Brexit world, the UK has implemented a liberalized visa regime. As a result, the UK’s numerous visa programs’ terms, minimum investments, and flexibility have been loosened. The Sole Representative Visa, for example, allows Indian SMEs to expand in the UK or high-earners to enter the country without having to apply for one of the dreaded investment visas.
What is a sole representative visa, and what does it entail?
This visa category, officially known as the Representative of an Overseas Business visa, allows small and medium businesses from other countries to expand swiftly and efficiently in the UK with very little expenditure. Its goal is to create the overseas company’s first commercial presence in the United Kingdom, either a registered branch or an owned subsidiary.
You may also be qualified if your company has a legal entity in the United Kingdom that does not employ anyone or conduct any activity. You can replace a single prior representative if your firm seeks to establish a UK branch or subsidiary, but it has not yet been verified.
Who is eligible to apply Sole Representative Visa?
The visa is designed for not a majority shareholder in the company but is a senior employee, such as a Director. It enables such persons to migrate to the United Kingdom to expand their business there. Typically, that Representative will come to the UK to open a branch office and then apply for a government business license. Then they can send as many employees as they require from India to the UK to staff the branch office. For intra-company transfers, this is usually done through other established visa routes.
How long will Sole Representative Visa application will take to be approved?
If you are applying from outside the UK, you must use it at least three months before your trip. If you plan to travel on June 15th, you can apply as early as March 16th. When applying for a visa from outside the UK, the UK government claims that a decision will be made within three weeks.
What is minimum investment required for Sole Representative Visa?
While the sole representative visa is granted after the British government assesses the applicant’s potential to invest, it is not an investment visa. This distinguishes it from popular global alternatives such as the EB-5 visa program in the United States.
There is no requirement for a minimum investment. However, attorneys recommend that businesses keep at least 50,000 pounds (Rs. 50 lakh) in cash on hand when preparing applications.
Is this Visa, however, beneficial to solo applicants?
The visa was designed for businesses and had safeguards to prevent it from being abused by non-business entities. This visa is not available to company majority shareholders.
On the other hand, this visa is available to anyone who owns a farm and has a registered business entity. Individuals can also acquire a UK firm and then sponsor themselves for a work permit under the UK’s new immigration regulations. This investment criterion might be in the range of 200-300,000 pounds (about Rs. 2-3 crore). This is a lot less than the Rs. 20 crore required for a tier-one investment visa to visit the UK.
Updates to the immigration regulations as of June 4th, 2020 – Sole Representative Visa Guidance
- The sole Representative UK branch or subsidiary must be an operational trade company with its headquarters and significant place of business outside of the UK.
- If granted this visa to represent the parent firm in the UK, The applicant must serve as the sole representative of the foreign company in the United Kingdom and cannot start their own business in the United Kingdom.
- The applicant must meet the fundamental eligibility criteria for this visa route; this is reported to be a “new” test established to crack down on applicants who have utilized this visa route to seek a path to settlement in the UK. However, the intention must always be genuine. When it comes time to extend the visa, the Home Office has always asked the applicant to present proof of the business they conducted for their parent firm during the prior limited leave to remain period.
- The parent company must be a legitimate operating and trading business that was not formed only to obtain a sole representative visa for the applicant with the primary goal of settling in the United Kingdom.
- There must be proof that the person applying has the necessary skills, experience, and industry knowledge. This isn’t a new requirement; entry clearance inspectors have previously questioned applicants’ abilities and expertise during an overseas visa interview.
- The applicant cannot own or control the overseas parent firm or have a majority stake in it. The distribution of shares, a partnership agreement, a sole proprietorship, or any other structure that an applicant may have can all be used to assess this under immigration rules. However, the candidate must be a senior employee of the overseas parent firm and a minority shareholder.
- The parent firm must give all current ownership information and ownership information for the previous year. This is done to guarantee that the company and its actions are honest.
- An individual majority shareholder cannot apply as the principal visa applicant and then bring their partner to the UK on a family visa.
Documents and information required to support a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business application.
If you want to become a Sole Representative of an Overseas Company, you’ll need following documentation to back up your application.
- A solid business plan that outlines the parent firm’s goals and why the company needs a representative office in the United Kingdom.
- A contract of employment between the Sole Representative and the hiring company is also required.
- Proof that the Sole Representative has worked in another country for at least a year.
- Letter from the parent company stating why the Representative is being assigned to the United Kingdom.
What are the rules for investing?
There is no obligation to make additional investments. Additionally, enterprises are not required to invest Rs. 50 lakhs right now. They must demonstrate to the authorities that they are financially capable of obtaining this visa. They must show that they have that amount in their bank account, which can open a branch office if necessary. According to lawyers, many sole Representative visa petitions have been approved as a result of this.