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Sole representatives of overseas businesses- how to apply?

11 March 2010

On 1 October 2009, Rule 144-151 came into force making important changes to the Sole Representative's immigration category which until then had been left unaltered by the implementation of the Points Based System.

The requirements to be met by a person seeking leave to enter the United Kingdom as a representative of an overseas business are that he/she:

(i) has been recruited and taken on as an employee outside the United Kingdom of a business which has its headquarters and principal place of business outside the United Kingdom and which has no branch, subsidiary or other representative in the United Kingdom; and

(ii) is seeking entry to the United Kingdom:

(a) as a senior employee with full authority to take operational decisions on behalf of the overseas business for the purpose of representing it in the United Kingdom by establishing and operating a registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary of that overseas business, the branch or subsidiary of which will be concerned with same type of business activity as the overseas business; or

(b) as an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation being posted on a long-term assignment as a representative of their overseas employer.

(iii) where entry is sought under (ii)(a), the person:

(a) will be the sole representative of the employer present in the United Kingdom under the terms of this paragraph;

(b) intends to be employed full time as a representative of that overseas business; and

(c) is not a majority shareholder in that overseas business.

The historic purpose of the "Sole reps" was to enable representative of a firm whose headquarters are based outside the UK to establish and operate a branch or a subsidiary in the UK. To be noted that the purpose, thus, remains the same, however, the "sole" qualification has been replaced by the plural term "representatives" of overseas business which means that the headquarters is now allowed to send more than one senior employee.

A new language requirement has been introduced as well as the requirement that the branch established in the UK must be engaged in the same business activities as the overseas business. As before, the applicant must be employed full time, not be a majority shareholder and not intend to take employment otherwise than stated in the Rules.


Migra & Co is a private immigration company, regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), reference number F200900038. This website is not a government website and as such, we are not linked or affiliated with the UK Visas and Immigration. We offer expert legal advice and flexible tailored solutions to both private and corporate clients to ensure that their immigration needs are met. If you wish to download or prepare a UK visa application form, you can do so free of charge by visiting the Official UKVI website.