The Sole Representative of an Overseas Business Visa is a long-standing category for employees of overseas businesses which do not have a presence in the UK, who can be sent to establish a branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of the overseas business in the UK.
The recent Statement of changes to the Immigration Rules on 14th May 2020 has made some significant changes to this visa category which will come into force on 4th June 2020. The changes have the effect of tightening up the rules by clarifying already existing guidance in this category and making new amendments that will have a significant impact.
Clarifying that the overseas parent businesses must be active and trading and intend to maintain their principal place of business outside the UK;
Clarification that applicants must be senior employees and cannot engage in their own business or represent any other business in the UK whilst on this visa category
To prevent an overseas business from sending a representative to facilitate their entry to the UK when there is no genuine intention for them to establish a branch or subsidiary in the UK
An amendment is being made to reflect that applicants must have the skills, experience, knowledge and authority to represent the overseas business in the UK;
An amendment is being made to tighten the eligibility of applicants for this visa. Majority shareholders were never eligible to apply but now this has been extended; the applicant must not “have a majority stake in, or otherwise own or control, that overseas business, whether that ownership control is by means of shareholding, partnership agreement, sole proprietorship or any other arrangement”.
An amendment to prevent majority owners/stakeholders from entering as the dependent spouse, civil partner, unmarried or same-sex partner of a representative of their own business. This has been done to stop owners from circumventing the rules intended to prevent them from relocating their business to the UK.
The changes to the rules will make the applications open to more subjective scrutiny by caseworkers and the importance of preparing the correct documentation and sending the appropriate individual for this category will be of utmost importance.