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An Introduction to the UK Overseas Business Visa

The Representatives of an Overseas Business visa is designed primarily to allow senior executives and managers of an overseas company to enter the UK to set up the company's first UK office, branch, or subsidia.

Prospective investors who are senior employees of an overseas business and would like to go to the UK to set up and run a UK branch or wholly owned subsidiary of that business may be able to submit an application for a sole representative visa. The company must have its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK and, where applicants are seeking entry as sole representatives, the company must have no other branch, subsidiary, or representative in the UK.

Criteria

Applicants must:

  • Have an intention to work full-time for their current employer in the UK and must have been recruited and employed outside the UK
  • Maintain a physical residence in the UK to avoid losing their permanent resident status
  • Pass the ‘Life in the UK’ test and an English language exam

The company:

  • Must have its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK
  • Must have no other branch, subsidiary, or representative in the UK
  • Must not have transacted business in the UK
  • Cannot have any employees in the UK, although it can have previously used agents, such as distributors, in the UK
  • Must be the same type of business as the parent company, which must still be actively trading and remain centered overseas

Procedures and time frame

Prospective investors who are senior employees of an overseas business and would like to go to the UK to set up and run a UK branch or wholly owned subsidiary of that business may be able to submit an application for a sole representative visa. Married or unmarried partners and dependent children under 18 can apply to live in the UK along with the sole representative.

Successful applicants will be given permission to enter and remain in the UK for up to three years initially. Applicants from certain countries will be required to register with the police within seven days of their arrival in the UK.

Beyond this, they will need to submit a further application for leave to remain, which would be valid for two years. After five years in the UK in the sole representative visa category, successful applicants may be granted permission to remain in the UK permanently.

Key advantages

  • International business environment — London is the financial capital of the world
  • Attractive tax regime for high-net-worth individuals who are resident but not domiciled
  • Direct international flight connections to almost all major cities in the world
  • World-renowned schools and universities