With the UK looking to expand trade ties and many overseas companies looking to enter the markets within the UK, many such companies may have to secure an appropriate visa for a designated employee in order to enter the UK. The better known or more popular Tier 1 programmes are often explored by businesses or business person, such as the Tier 1 Entrepreneur or Tier 1 Investor routes. However, even though these options are better known, they can be evidentially burdensome than the lesser known Representative of an Overseas Business visa category.
The purpose of this visa is for a representative of an overseas business to gain entry to the UK for the sole business purpose of establishing a UK based branch or subsidiary of the company. This category offers the representative a simpler alternative to securing entry into the UK, for a period of 3 years with the option of extension for a further 2 years- after which an individual may become eligible for permanent residency (provided the requirements are met at that time).
A representative looking to apply under this category would usually already be under the employment of the overseas business and should not however be a majority shareholder in the company. It should be the intention of representative to continue to be wholly employed by the company once he is in the UK.
The primary documentation required for an application includes:
- A complete and detailed description of the various business activities of the company, which includes details of various accounts and assets
- A confirmation letter from the company stating its intention to established a wholly owned, UK based subsidiary or branch with the intention of undertaking the same or substantially similar business activities
- Detailed job description for the representative, employment contract and evidence of their salary being paid over the last 6 months.
- A letter form the company which confirms that the employee is familiar with their business operations and is authorised to make operational decisions
Supporting documents for the application additionally may include various documents, which prove that:
- The employee is directly employed by the company and not acting as a subsidiary or third party such as a sub-contractor or individual that has been contracted as a third-party agent (e.g. sales agent)
- The employee was recruited outside of the UK and holds a position which is authorised to establish a branch and operate it on the company’s behalf
- The employee will be working for the company in a full-time capacity and will not be conducting any other work or business
- The employee is not a majority shareholder in the company
This route however does not require any formalised business plans and entrepreneurial “genuineness” tests such as may be needed for other Tier 1 routes. It should be noted that the more documents that can be provided to evidence the company’s business activities and the relationship with the employee seeking a visa, the greater the likelihood of the application being approved.