What is a
Sole Representative visa?

Are you an overseas business looking to set up in the UK?

If so, one of your first steps will be to identify a member of staff to take the lead in such an important project, along with securing a UK visa for them.

Smith Stone Walters regularly submits sole representative visa applications on behalf of overseas businesses looking to set up a branch in the UK. We would like to share some of our wisdom with you in ensuring that this part of the exciting process is seamless.

In this article, we look at what a sole representative visa is and what this visa enables the holder to do here in the UK.

What is a sole representative visa?

Sole Representative is a UK visa category whose primary purpose is to allow an individual (sole) representative of an overseas business to enter the UK and establish, and run, a registered UK branch or wholly owned subsidiary of the business in the UK.

The individual chosen by the overseas business to become its sole representative is allowed to both set up and run the UK branch or subsidiary. As part of their everyday duties, the sole representative visa allows its holder to do the following:

  • work full-time in the UK for their employer;
  • bring their family (‘dependants’) with them to the UK;
  • extend their sole representative visa beyond the initial period granted; and
  • apply to settle in the UK after they have been here for 5 years.

The sole representative is not allowed to do any of the following once in the UK on a Sole Representative Visa:

  • work for themselves or any other company;
  • stay in the UK if the sole representative arrangement is ended by their employer;
  • switch to this visa from any other visa category ie, you cannot switch to the sole representative visa while temporarily residing in the UK as a visitor; or
  • receive public funds.

Follow us  for detailed information on how to best prepare and approach your sole rep visa application, and avoid the most common of application pitfalls.

In future articles we will be looking at choosing the right member of your staff for the important role of becoming your business’ first representative in the UK and what criteria they must meet in order to be eligible to apply for the visa.

Read other articles in this series:

Is your business eligible to send a sole rep to the UK?

How to choose your sole rep visa candidate

Applying for your sole rep visa? Let Smith Stone Walters help

The dos and don’ts of a sole rep visa

Can I extend my UK sole rep visa?


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