Apply for a Sole Representative Visa

Sole representative is one of the few remaining non-points based work categories, and provides an attractive option to foreign investors and business people looking to expand their activity into the UK.

Am I eligible for a Sole Representative Visa?

To qualify as a sole representative, the following must be shown:

  • You are a senior employee of a business which has no active branch, subsidiary or other representative in the United Kingdom
  • You were recruited outside the UK by the business, which has its headquarters and principal place of business overseas
  • You have full authority to take operational decisions on behalf of the business, and will establish and operate a registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary in the UK doing the same kind of work
  • You must be employed full time in the business, and cannot be a majority shareholder
  • You have sufficient English language ability (CEFR level A1), and can maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependants without recourse to public funds

What are the Key Features?

The sole representative rules provide some attractive opportunities to foreign investors and businesspeople beyond the UK’s point-based system:

  • As long as you do not own a majority shareholding in your overseas company, you can qualify for entry to the UK on a sole representative visa.  Even a 50% shareholding is fine
  • Your business overseas doesn’t need to be a certain size; even small trading companies may be able to set up a UK subsidiary
  • The rules do not require you to set up your company in the UK in advance; this can be sorted out once the sole representative visa is issued, and you have relocated to the UK
  • Once living in the UK, you can build your business here.  You do not need to remain a sole representative – instead, you may expand your business, employ other people, even apply for a skilled worker sponsor licence to take on more overseas staff.
  • The sole representative category does not have a strict 180 / 365 days residence requirement at extension stage.  You must, however, prove that you are engaged full-time in the business here
  • The 180 / 365 day residence requirement becomes relevant when you are applying for indefinite leave to remain
  • Also remember that there are residence requirements – basically, 450 days permitted absences over 5 years / 90 days permitted in the last 12 months – if you are intending to apply for British citizenship in the future
  • Rule changes in 2020 mean that it is no longer possible for an overseas business owner to enter as the dependant of their spouse or long-term partner

If your visa application is successful, you will be granted an initial 3 years’ leave; you may extend this up to 5 years, at which point you and your dependants become eligible for settlement (subject to meeting relevant residence, English language and life in the UK requirements).  Note there is no accelerated settlement route for the sole representative category. 

The rules and policy require the sole representative of an overseas business to establish and operate a wholly owned subsidiary of an overseas entity (engaged in the same business as the overseas parent).  The sole representative must not engage in business of their own nor represent any other company’s interests. We have received confirmation from UK Visas and Immigration that the establishment of a UK holding company (not operating in the same business as its overseas parent, only providing administrative functions to the new UK enterprise) is acceptable, so long as the new enterprise is involved in the same business activity as the overseas parent.

How we can help

Our aim is to give you the best chance of successfully securing your UK sole representative visa so you can pursue your business plans. We pride ourselves on the efficiency of our processes and aim to be responsive, and proactive in the pursuit of your case.

Why choose Latitude Law?

Latitude’s team has many years’ experience advising on the sole representative category, one of the few remaining non-points-based work categories. It is often a convenient option, particularly where you have not worked for your overseas employer for at least 12 months.

We are known for going that extra mile to ensure clients are successful in their endeavours whilst maintaining professionalism and ethical standards at all times. Our team is friendly and approachable and are always willing to answer any questions you might have.

We can meet you in our London, Liverpool or Manchester offices or take your instructions via telephone or video conference.

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Success for the Bouameur Family

I am writing this on behalf of the whole family, we would like to say thank you. These two words are such small words for the gratitude and high regard we all hold you in.

Your firm and especially you have been with us throughout the difficult years we have had and you have always been there when we needed picking up, our shoulder to cry on that saw us through with honesty and realistic advice.

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May 2021
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Particular mention is merited to Ms Gemma Wylie, whose professionalism is par excellence. I couldn’t thank her enough.


January 2020
The long road to permanent residence

Me and Fady want to thank you and your team for helping us throughout the past 8 years with Fady's immigration issues and finally getting him to live a life without worries and struggles. We just came back from Egypt where we visited his family after 8 years of Fady not seeing them. This wouldn't have been possible without your help and who knows where we would be today if it wasn't for you helping us.

April 2019

All content on this page was reviewed by Latitude Law and is accurate as of 11/02/2019