If you are currently in Britain on a UK Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa, you may be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the country. If granted, ILR status gives you the advantage of being able to remain in the country essentially indefinitely, without having to reapply for a visa to the UK. Because of the freedoms afforded to ILR holders, achieving ILR status involves the fulfillment of a number of eligibility requirements relating to British historical and cultural life. Furthermore, applicants must meet additional conditions related to the amount of time they have remained in the UK prior to applying for settlement (known as the qualifying period) and supply other essential materials. Today’s blog will therefore provide an overview of the requirements for settlement in the UK as a Representative of an Overseas Business. Read on for more information about the settlement requirements, including the work requirement, the Knowledge of Life in the UK test, and the English language requirement for those pursing settlement in the country. 

UK Sole Representative Visa

  • The UK Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa is available to eligible applicants who seek to immigrate to Britain for the purpose of setting up a branch of an abroad-based company. The visa is therefore available for already-employed individuals who are empowered to act while in the UK as a Representative of an Overseas Business. 
  • Employees of abroad-based media companies are also eligible to immigrate to the UK for the purpose of working for their abroad-based companies. Please note that some of the eligibility requirements for media representatives may differ from those of the Overseas Business Representatives. 
  • For a complete overview of the UK Sole Representative visa, click here.

Indefinite Leave to Remain

  • If you are granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), also known as settlement, you will be able to remain in the country essentially indefinitely. This means that you can stay in the UK without having to apply for additional visas or visa extensions. 
  • Holders of ILR can come and go from the UK as they please, so long as they do not remain abroad for two years without returning to the country. For example, one cannot simply achieve ILR and then live outside of the country for two years. To keep your status, you must live “consistently” in the country. 
  • ILR holders should travel with the Biometric Residence Permit (BRP), which will display their ILR status to UK passport authorities. 
  • ILR allows holders to work and study in the country, receive free medical treatment through the British National Health Service (NHS), and other obtain other benefits. 
  • Most children of ILR holders who are born in the country are eligible to become UK citizens after registering. In many cases, ILR holders also have the opportunity to bring family members to the country as dependents.  
  • Once you are granted ILR, it cannot be taken away from you unless you remain abroad for 2 years or more, are no longer a refugee (in the event that you originally received it on the basis of your refugee status), are subject to deportation, or are found to have pursued it through fraud or misrepresentation of your identity. 
  • Holders of ILR ultimately have a pathway to British citizenship, should they remain eligible and choose to pursue it.  
  • Applicants for ILR who are applying as a Representative of an Overseas Business should do so online. 

Settlement requirements

The requirements for settlement in the UK as a representative of an overseas business include the following: 

  • Qualifying period
    • In order to be eligible for ILR as a Representative of an Overseas Business, you must apply only once you have already lived consistently in the country for a minimum of five years. 
  • English language 
    • Sole Representatives who seek settlement in the UK must fulfill the English languagerequirement, which is at the B1 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for English language (CEFR).
    • There are three main pathways you can take to fulfil the English language requirement:
      • 1. Pass an English language test—Applicants can sit for and pass one of the official English language tests. 
      • 2. Prove your nationality—Applicants who are from one of the English-speaking countries below can provide evidence of their citizenship to fulfill the English language requirement: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States.
      • 3. Graduate from an English-language school—Applicants who previously graduated and received a degree from an English-language college or university can present their academic certificate as proof of having fulfilled the English language requirement. Please note that in order to fulfill the requirement for settlement, the degree must be (at minimum) a bachelor’s degree (or at the same level as a British bachelor’s degree). The validity of your degree will be determined by the UK NARIC (National Information Centre for global qualifications and skills), which will issue you an Academic Qualification Level Statement (AQUALS), in the event that they consider your degree of significant value.   
    • Please note that the English language settlement requirement is different (stricter) than the English language requirement for entry to the UK via a Sole Representative visa. 
  • Work requirement
    • Sole Representative applicants must obtain a letter from the business they represent, stating that they intend to keep employing them as a Sole Representative and paying them around the same amount of money going forward. In effect, the letter should reflect a commitment to the applicant’s current and future employment as a Sole Representative for the company.  
  • Knowledge of Life in the UK
    • The Knowledge of Life in the UK, also known as KOL, can only be fulfilled by taking and passing an official test. The test, which consists of 24 questions and takes 45 minutes to complete, is meant to assess an applicant’s awareness and understanding of British historical and cultural life and traditions.
    • Applicants who pass the test are considered to have sufficient knowledge of the country and therefore are considered to have fulfilled that requirement. 
  • Correct visa
    • In order to apply for settlement as a Sole Representative an Overseas Business, you must be in the country on a current and valid Representative of an Overseas Business visa. 
  • Biometric information
    • If you are applying for settlement, you will likely have to provide your biometric information (fingerprints and photos) at some point during your application process. 
  • Fees 
    • You will likely have to pay an application fee in order to apply for ILR. In general, prompt and complete payment of UK immigration fees is a prerequisite for processing an application. 
  • Passport 
    • Applicants for ILR must present a passport/accepted valid and recognized travel document in order to prove their and citizenship and general identity.  
  • Be in good standing
    • ILR applicants must not have violated any UK laws pertaining to immigration, nor can they be applying for settlement while they are on immigration bail.  
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