If you own an overseas business and are looking to open a subsidiary or branch in the UK then you need the relevant Visa. The UK Expansion Worker Visa must be applied for prior to opening your business in the UK.
Despite the fact that the UK Government and UK Commerce welcome overseas business there are, as you would probably expect, a long list of Immigration and eligibility rules that must be met before the Visa can be granted.
In this article we will cover all the eligibility and immigration rules that you will need to meet in order to get your Visa.
1. Expansion Worker Visa
You will need to prove to the UK Visa’s and Immigration that you are eligible for Expansion Worker Visa by confirming that:
• Your overseas business is still trading and active ;
• Your overseas business has its headquarters and main place of business outside of the UK;
• Your overseas business has no other active subsidiary, branch or representative in the UK;
• Your overseas business Intends to set up a subsidiary or branch in the United Kingdom that will carry out the same business activities that it does overseas;
• The sole representative must not be appointed or the overseas business will not be established for the sole purpose of helping the sole representative to gain entry to the UK;
• The business intends to keep the core of its business operations overseas.
In addition, you will need to demonstrate that you:
• Are an actual and true Representative of an Overseas Business;
• Are an existing senior employee of the overseas business;
• Have been taken on outside of the UK and recruited as an employee of the overseas business;
• Have the experience, skills and knowledge of the overseas business that would be needed to take on the role of sole representative once the business has been established in the UK;
• Have complete authority to make operational decisions and negotiate on behalf of the overseas business;
• Intend to work on a full-time basis as a representative of the overseas business;
• Do not intend to work for yourself or any other business;
• Do not hold the majority of shares in the business ;
• Can show that you have CEFR Level 1 English language ability ;
• Can show you will not need public funding and can accommodate and maintain yourself and your family whilst in the UK.
You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer or relocation specialist for expert advice.
2. Is your business entitled to establish a UK subsidiary or branch?
The main company must be an active and trading overseas business for a suitably experienced employee to meet the criteria to apply for a UK Overseas Business Representative Visa.
The overseas company must have, and continue to keep, its head office and main place of business outside of the UK.
If the business already has a subsidiary, branch, or other representative in the UK then it will be rejected.
Even when there is no current representative in the UK, the business will be excluded if the individual setting up the subsidiary or branch in the UK intends for the overseas business to shift its main operations to the UK.
The Home Office would also need to be happy that any branch or subsidiary hasn’t been purposely set up to solely facilitate the facilitate the entry and stay of the single representative.
3. Choosing a Candidate for a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business Visa
The applicant for the Sole Representative visa must be a genuine, current senior staff member of the overseas business who has been recruited and hired as an employee of the overseas business from outside of the United Kingdom. They will have the required skills, experience, and knowledge of the overseas business to act as the sole representative of the overseas business in the UK.
The Sole Representative visa applicant will always have full authority to negotiate and make operational decisions for the rest of the overseas business and will genuinely intend to be employed on a full-time basis as an overseas business representative. They must sincerely intend not to conduct their own business or represent the interests of any other business in the UK.
4. Can Sole Representatives hold Company Shares?
According to the Immigration Rules, an applicant for a Sole Representative visa must not have a controlling stake in, own or control the overseas business, either through any structure, whether that be a partnership or shareholding agreement or full and sole ownership.
This indicates that applicants can indeed be shareholders, but they cannot own more than 50 percent of the overall of the company’s available shares at the time of application. Existing majority shareholders who reduce their shares prior to the application could be eligible for a Sole Representative visa. Applicants should be advised, however, that the Home Office will evaluate the company’s share distribution both in the current and previous years.
Applicants (whether shareholders or non-shareholders) should also be aware that the route’s requirements extend beyond ownership to include control. Regardless of ownership stake, candidates must not control the overseas business via another arrangement.
There may seem like a lot of red tape and eligibility issues regarding Immigration but by talking to an Immigration Lawyer or Relocation Specialist you may actually find that it isn’t as hard as it seems right now.