Once you’ve decided to expand to the UK and completed your go-to-market plan, it’s likely you’ll send a senior member of your management team to the UK to establish the UK branch, or subsidiary. If you are an EU national, you require no visa to establish your company and work here.

If you’re coming from outside the EU, there are two visa options to consider: you can apply for visa as a ‘Representative of an Overseas Business’; or as a Tier 1 ‘Entrepreneur’.

We will outline the general requirements for the visa processes for each option for non-EU representatives in two articles:

  • Part 1: Guidance for applying as a Representative of an Overseas Business.
  • Part 2: Requirements for a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa.

This is the first article and examines requirements for non-EU nationals applying for a visa as a Representative of an Overseas Business.

Representatives of an Overseas Business

This guidance is provided for non-European Economic Area Nationals who wish to come to the UK as a representative of an overseas business. As a visa holder under this category, you will be able to come to the UK for an initial period of 3 years with the option of extending for a further 2 years at a time. After you have been in the UK for 5 years, you may apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

General Requirements

  • In order to qualify for this visa, you must be the sole representative of an overseas company planning to set up the first UK branch or wholly owned subsidiary of the overseas parent company.
  • You must have been recruited and employed outside the UK and be in a senior position within the overseas company.
  • You cannot be a majority shareholder for the company but must have full authority to make decisions on its behalf.
  • You must also have extensive industry related knowledge and experience.
  • Finally, you must also meet the English Language and maintenance requirements.

Application & Processing Time

You can apply for your visa up to 3 months prior to travelling to the UK.

Your visa will normally take up to 15 working days to process, depending on the current processing time at the British Diplomatic post in your area.

Visa Submission Process

After you have gathered all of the necessary supporting documents to prove that you meet all of the requirements for this visa, you can complete and submit the online application. At the time of submitting your application online, you will need to pay the visa fee, currently £514.00 (as of January 2015).

You will also be required to book an appointment to attend a visa application centre in your area to submit your biometrics (fingerprints and photo) and supporting documents. The visa application centre will contact you after your visa has been processed.

Other Considerations

With this visa, you will be allowed to work only for your employer. You can also bring your qualifying family members to the UK as dependants.

The specific documents that you will need to submit in support of your visa application to prove that you meet the requirements will depend on your personal circumstances and that of the company. You must meet all documentary requirements for this visa prior to applying.

Please note that this information is provided as guidance only and is not intended to be used as advice.

Should you require any help in expanding your business to the UK, or have any questions regarding UK market entry, please contact info@tradehorizons.com.

Guest Blog by Beverley Harper, Immigration Specialist, IQA Immigration Specialists Ltd. For further information, or assistance specifically with immigration or visas, please contact beverley.harper@iqaimmigration.com