There are a number of types of UK Business visas available to those looking to immigrate to the country. If you work for an abroad-based business and you are considering moving to the UK to set up a branch, you will likely end up needing a UK Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa. Today’s blog will present the top-10 tips for the UK Sole Representative visa.   

Tip #1: Determine if you are eligible

  • The top tip for the UK Sole Representative visa is to look over the UK Sole Representative eligibility requirements prior to applying. 
  • Not everyone is eligible for a UK visa in general and for the Sole Representative visa in particular.
  • The UK Sole Representative visa has very specific requirements for would-be visa holders, who must demonstrate, among other things, that the company they are traveling to the UK to set up a branch for is both trading and active, that they are employed in an upper-level role within the company, and that they were recruited (and continue to work) at their position while they were abroad (i.e. not while they were in Britain). 

Tip #2: Apply at least three weeks in advance of your UK arrival

  • The processing time for most Representative of an Overseas Business visas is three weeks, meaning that you should not plan on arriving in the country before you receive your visa. Apply as a Sole Representative at least three weeks prior to your trip to the UK in order to ensure that you receive your visa in time to have it with you when you fly into the country. 
  • Please note, you will almost certainly need your Sole Representative visa in order to be allowed into the country. If you try to enter the UK without your visa (even if you have already been approved for it and have evidence of this approval) you will almost certainly be denied entry. This is why our number two tip is to apply well in advance of your trip to the UK, so that you will have your visa in your passport when you arrive at the UK border, and therefore be allowed entry. 

Tip #3: Know what you can’t do before applying

  • While those with a UK Sole Representative visa can do many things with their visa while in the UK, there are some things that they are prohibited from doing. If you are going to apply for a Sole Representative visa, you should know these immigration rules (what you can and cannot do) before you apply, so that you don’t violate the terms of your visa and jeopardize your immigration status in the UK. 
  • Sole Representative visa holders are prohibited from being self-employed or seeking employment outside of their original work as a Sole Representative (for their overseas company). In addition, visa holders are restricted from applying for welfare in the UK, and remaining the country in the event that the company they work for cancels their arrangement. 

Tip #4: Calculate your total visa costs before applying

  • While applicants look at the basic price of the Sole Representative visa and assume that this is all they will have to pay in order to come to the UK on that visa—this is unfortunately not the case.
  • While the basic price of the visa is £610, this does not reflect additional UK Sole Representative visa fees which you as an applicant are responsible for. 
  • In addition to the basic UK Sole Representative visa fees related to your application, you will also have to pay what the government calls a “healthcare surcharge” and also any charges related to your biometric information collection (a visa requirement, which usually costs £19.50). In addition to these costs, you are required to provide proof of your ability to financially afford your upcoming costs of living in the UK. 
  • Some of these costs (such as the healthcare surcharge) vary according to the nature of the applicant, and can cost upwards of a thousand GBP. You should estimate these costs prior to applying, so that can be well aware of the total costs of the visa before you commit to applying for it, so that you don’t begin the application process and discover that you cannot, in fact, afford the true cost of the visa. 

Tip #5: Calculate your visa validity period

  • It’s important you know how long you can remain in the country on a UK Sole Representative visa prior to applying. 
  • Keep in mind that the minimum amount of time your visa will be valid for is three years, with the possibility of extending that period for an additional two years (for a total of five years). 
  • Once you are there, you will need to pay close attention to your visa validity period so that you do not violate any of the UK immigration rules. 

Tip #6: Prepare your required documents well in advance of applying

  • Sole Representative visa holders must meet certain eligibility requirements, which include the submission of a number of required and supplemental documents and materials. 
  • It is important that you know what you must submit on your Representative of an Overseas Business visa application prior to applying, so that you have time to gather all of your materials in time to meet your own application deadline. 
  • Sole Representative visa holders must submit documents testifying to their employment with the overseas company they seek to represent in the UK. While you yourself will produce many of the required documents, some will be requested of your employers or third-parties. Because of this, you should make sure that you know what documents you need, and that you give people enough time to send them to you (so that you may include everything together on your initial application). 
  • Keep in mind, you don’t want to be in position where you are ready to apply for your visa and have a general idea of when you are going to arrive in the UK, only to discover that you urgently need some sort of document that can only be obtained from your boss—who is on vacation. Small things like this can throw off an entire visa-application timeline, so try to be as organized as possible when you apply. 

Tip #7: Make a plan for your family

  • Did you know that you can bring family members with you on your Representative of an Overseas Business visa? One of the advantages of this particular visa category is that family members can join you in the country, provided they meet the various eligibility requirements.  
  • If you have a family that you wish to accompany you on your visa, make sure you carefully read the eligibility requirements for dependents, so that you know who can come with you and who cannot come with you. 
  • For example, if you live with your elderly parents, and wish to bring them with you to the UK, please be aware that an applicant’s parents are not eligible to be dependents of a UK Sole Representative visa holder. In fact, only spouses (and partners) and children are considered eligible to apply as your dependents. What this means is that if you have parents who you wish to bring with you to the country, you will have to find another immigration avenue for them other than the dependent of a sole-representative pathway. 

Tip #8: Don’t forget about the English-language requirement

  • Many foreigners are surprised to discover that many UK visas have an English language requirement; the UK Sole Representative visa is one such visa. 
  • The requirement to provide evidence of your English language speaking, writing, reading, and understanding abilities affects most applicants who are not from a majority English-speaking country (those from certain states, such as the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and most Caribbean island nations, are exempt from it, because English as is their national language). 
  • If you are not from one of those countries, you will have to fulfill the English requirement through other ways, such as by taking an authorized English-language test.
  • If you do need to take a test, make sure you take it well in advance of when you need to submit your application, so that your application is complete when you apply as a Sole Representative. While you may be able to submit test scores and other required documents later, your application will be delayed until they are received, which can prove disruptive and costly to applicants on a schedule. 

Tip #9: Apply online, but be prepared to fulfill in-person requirements

  • While the application process for the Sole Representative visa takes place almost entirely online, there are some in-person requirements you should be mindful of. 
  • While Sole Representative visa applicants will submit their application in person, they will also have to go in-person to a biometric information collection point (either a visa application center or a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point, depending on whether they are applying from abroad or from within the country, respectively. Here, you will submit your photos and fingerprints to fulfill the biometric information requirement for the Sole Representative visa. Your application will not be processed until you submit this information, so do not forget about this in-person component! 

Tip #10: Read the fine print

  • Did you know that applicants applying from within the country who journey abroad while their application is being processed will have their application cancelled? This is just one of the small details a would-be Sole Representative visa applicant should be mindful of during their application process. In effect, an applicant should read the fine print on their visa terms and conditions, so that they do not unintentionally do something that jeopardizes their application.

For help reading the fine print, and all other concerns, contact us here

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