High level of Home Office scrutiny on Sole Representative extensions and Settlement applications
Sole Representative (Overseas Business Representative) visa route is closed for new applicants as of spring 2022. The Sole Representative visa has been replaced by the Global Business Mobility Expansion worker visa category, which is a sponsored visa route and requires employer to first obtain Expansion Worker sponsor licence.
Those individuals who already hold the Sole Representative visa must be aware that Home Office currently puts the Sole Representative visa extension and Indefinite Leave to Remain applications under high scrutiny. It appears that thorough checks are done by the Home Office, including checks of any information available online (e.g. at Companies House), to establish if each application meets the relevant criteria for the extension or Settlement/ILR. The Home Office approach to applications is strict. This unfortunately results in increased number of refusals for the Sole Representative visa extensions and Settlement applications.
It is important to prepare the extension and Settlement applications with utmost diligence to ensure that the application meets the relevant requirements and has best chance of success. In the below we provide an outline of the relevant immigration rules.
Requirements for Sole Representative visa extension application
The Sole Representative applicant must meet all the following requirements when applying for visa extension:
(a) the applicant must have established the registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of the overseas business for which they were last granted permission under this route; and
(b) the applicant must be engaged in full time employment and must supervise the registered branch or wholly-owned subsidiary which they have established, and must be required by their employer to continue in that role; and
(c) the applicant must provide all of the following:
(i) evidence of business that has been generated, principally with firms in the UK, on behalf of their employer since their last grant of permission, in the form of accounts, copies of invoices or letters from businesses with whom the applicant has done business, including the value of transactions; and
(ii) a Companies House certificate of registration as a UK establishment (for a branch), or a certificate of incorporation (for a subsidiary), together with either a copy of the share register or a letter from the overseas business’s accountant confirming that the UK business is wholly owned by the overseas business; and
(iii) a letter from the applicant’s employer confirming that the applicant supervises the UK branch or subsidiary and is required to continue in that employment; and
(iv) evidence of salary paid by the employer in the 12 months immediately before the date of application and details of the remuneration package the employee receives.
Requirements for Sole Representative Indefinite Leave to Remain/Settlement application
The Sole Representative applicant must meet all the following requirements when applying for Settlement/Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR):
The applicant must meet the continuous resident requirement in Appendix Continuous Residence.
The applicant must meet the Knowledge of Life in the UK requirement as specified in Appendix KOLL UK.
Throughout the period as the Sole Representative visa holder the below requirements must be met:
(a) the overseas business or media organisation that the applicant represents must have been active and trading with its headquarters and principal place of business remaining outside the UK; and
(b) the applicant must have been employed and working fulltime for the overseas business or media organisation they represent, or for that business’s UK branch or subsidiary, and
(c) the applicant must not have undertaken work for any other business or engaged in business of their own.
The applicant must provide:
(a) evidence of salary paid by their employer in the 12 months immediately before the date of application and details of the renumeration package the employee receives; and
(b) a letter from their employer confirming that they still require the applicant to work for them, and that the applicant will be required for the foreseeable future.
The applicant must be required by their employer to continue in the role for which their last period of permission was granted.
Throughout the period as the Sole Representative in the UK the applicant must have met the following requirements:
(a) they must not have had a majority stake in, or otherwise owned or controlled a majority of the overseas business they represent, whether that ownership or control was by means of a shareholding, partnership agreement, sole proprietorship or any other arrangement; and
(b) the applicant must have established and then supervised the registered a branch or wholly owned subsidiary of the overseas business they represent in the UK, where that branch or subsidiary was actively trading in the same type of business as the overseas business.