Businesspersons from other countries have options to enter the United Kingdom with a specific business visa. The UK government used to have a few visas to encourage overseas entrepreneurs to invest in the country.
However, UK immigration laws change at least twice a year, so it can be challenging for some entrepreneurs from other countries to understand and apply for the right business visa.
With the complex immigration laws, it is advisable to hire a professional immigration solicitor from the UK to help you navigate the system and receive the right kind of advice to apply for a business visa successfully.
Understanding the visa for overseas entrepreneurs
If you are a businessperson representing a business from overseas, you can apply for an overseas business representative visa.
Like other visas, you have to meet several requirements to ensure that a visa will be granted. These are the most important requirements:
- You do not live in a country that is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA);
- You are not from Switzerland;
- You are the sole representative of an overseas business that plans to set up a wholly-owned subsidiary or branch in the United Kingdom;
- You possess extensive knowledge and experience regarding the relevant industry;
- You are not a major stockholder in the company but holds a senior position;
- You have the authority to make decisions for the company;
- The company, branch, or subsidiary you intend to establish in the UK will be the first in the country;
- You meet the funding requirements and can support yourself and/or your family;
- You meet the fluency requirement in the English language; and
- You are an employee of a broadcasting organisation, news agency, or overseas newspaper and assigned to the UK for a long-term post.
Conditions and length of stay
The overseas business representative visa allows successful applicants to initially stay in the UK for a minimum of three years. Under some conditions, the visa can be extended for two more years.
The visa holder must follow the conditions stipulated under the visa. The representative can only work for their company. They are prohibited from working for another company. If the head office terminates their employment, the sole representative arrangement becomes invalid. Therefore, the representative needs to leave the UK.
Applying for indefinite leave to remain
The sole representative of an overseas company is allowed to stay in the UK to establish and grow the branch or subsidiary. If the visa holder remains qualified as the representative of an overseas business, the person can apply for an Indefinite Leave to Remain, subject so some conditions.
The applicant should demonstrate that:
- Their employer is still based overseas and actively trading, and the sole representative is permitted by the company to remain in the UK;
- They can prove that they have lived in the country without requesting public funds for the duration of their initial stay;
- The applicant has not stayed out of the UK for more than 180 days within a 12-month period;
- They must pass the Life in the UK Test; and
- They meet the required proficiency in the English language.
Ensure that you understand the intricacies of the UK business immigration laws as failure to do so can lead to visa refusal. It will be to your benefit to get help from a professional immigration solicitor.