UK immigration laws are complicated, and there are frequent changes. These changes always present a challenge to visa applicants from countries that are not former British territories. They need the help and support of professional immigration solicitors to navigate the intricacies of British immigration laws and the many requirements that the applicants must meet for each type of UK visa.
As of June 4, 2020, the Sole Representative Visa changes were implemented after the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa was revoked in March 2019.
New Statement of Changes
The UK parliament introduced the New Statement of Changes on the Sole Representative visa (Representatives of Overseas Businesses) on May 14, 2020. With the Sole Representative visa, the visa holder’s offshore parent company is allowed to establish a subsidiary or branch in the UK.
The primary requisite of the overseas business representative visa is that the offshore company is a genuine commercial business firm in its home country.
The major change in the Immigration Rules is the initiation of a subjective genuineness test, to make it more challenging to obtain a visa. It was always acknowledged that the visa application must be genuine, but with the changes, the requirement is clearly mentioned in the rules.
Summary of the primary changes
The offshore business must be legitimate and will maintain its main headquarters in its home country. The intention to apply for a Sole Representative visa is to open a subsidiary or branch. Suspicions by the Entry Clearance Officer regarding the plan to open a new headquarters in the country lead to automatic refusal of the application.
The visa applicant should be a senior employee of the offshore company, and they must prove that they are not applying for a Sole Representative visa to enter and live in the UK.
The offshore company’s sole representative should be physically present in the country. The person must have the knowledge, experience, and skills regarding their business, to perform the role after the establishment of their branch or subsidiary. Moreover, the representative must exercise full authority regarding operational decisions and business negotiations for the parent company. Full-time employment in the UK branch is required, and the representative should not engage in other businesses, or seek employment in another person’s business.
The new rules state that the visa applicant should not be a majority stockholder, or control/own the offshore parent company, whether as a:
- Business partner
- Sole proprietor
- Engaged in other arrangements with the parent company
Under the new rules, the employer’s letter must include more detailed information about the sole representative, including the details of the representative’s autonomous duties and responsibilities.
The Statement of Changes clarifies that the wife/husband/partner of the sole representative must not be a majority owner of the parent company. This rule prevents the representative and their family from establishing a new life in the country.
With the changes, it will become more difficult for representatives of offshore companies to obtain a Sole Representative visa.