Representative of an Overseas Business visa
You can apply to come to the UK as a representative of an overseas business if you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland and you’re either:
• the sole representative of an overseas business planning to set up either a UK branch or wholly owned subsidiary
• an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation posted on a long-term assignment to the UK
You must also meet the other eligibility requirements.
How long will it take?
The earliest you can apply is 3 months before you travel.
Example You can apply from 16 March if you plan to travel on 15 June.
You should get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks when you apply from outside the UK.
You must pay the healthcare surcharge as part of your application.
You can come to the UK for an initial period of 3 years.
You may be able to extend your visa for another 2 years.
After you’ve been in the UK for 5 years, you can apply for permission to settle permanently in the UK.
• work for your employer, full time
• bring your family (‘dependants’) with you to the UK
• apply to extend your visa
• apply to settle in the UK after you’ve been here for 5 years
• work for yourself or any other business
• stay in the UK if the sole representative arrangement is ended by your employer
• switch to this visa from any other visa category
• get public funds
To be eligible for this visa you must:
• be from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
• have enough money to support yourself without help from public funds
• meet the English requirement
If you are coming to the UK as a sole representative you must:
• be recruited and employed outside the UK by an active and trading business (whose headquarters and principal place of business are, and will remain, outside the UK)
• have the skills, experience and knowledge to do the role
• hold a senior position within the business (but do not own or control the majority of it) and have full authority to make decisions on its behalf
• intend to establish the overseas business’s first commercial presence in the UK, either as a registered branch or a wholly owned subsidiary
You may also be eligible if the business has a legal entity in the UK that does not employ staff or do any business.
If your employer has been working to establish a UK branch or subsidiary, but it is not yet set up, you can replace a previous sole representative.
Newspaper, news agency or broadcast employees
As an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation, you can come to the UK if you’re being posted here on a long-term assignment.
You may need to prove your knowledge of the English language when you apply.
You can prove your knowledge of English by either:
• passing an approved English language test with at least CEFR level A1 in speaking and listening
• having an academic qualification that was taught in English and is recognised by UK NARIC as being equivalent to a UK bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD
You may be able to meet the English language requirement in other ways.
You will not need to prove your knowledge of English if you’re a national of one of the following countries:
• Antigua and Barbuda
• the Bahamas
• New Zealand
• St Kitts and Nevis
• St Lucia
• St Vincent and the Grenadines
• Trinidad and Tobago
You also may not have to prove your knowledge of English in other circumstances
When you apply you’ll need to provide:
• a current passport or other valid travel identification
• evidence that you can support yourself and any dependants during your trip, for example bank statements or payslips for the last 6 months
• details of where you’ll be staying during your stay
• proof that you meet the English requirement
• your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a country where you have to take the test
You’ll need to have a blank page in your passport on which to put the visa.
You’ll need to provide a certified translation of any documents that are not in English or Welsh.
You may need to provide additional documents depending on your circumstances.
When applying as a sole representative of an overseas business you’ll need to provide:
• a full description of the business’s activities, including details of assets and accounts
• a letter confirming the overseas business will set up a wholly owned subsidiary or register a branch in the UK in the same business activity as it runs overseas
• your job description, employment contract and salary details
• a letter confirming you’re familiar with the business and have the power to take operational decisions
You should also provide evidence that you:
• are directly employed by the business and are not acting as a sales agent (for example, hired by a business to sell or distribute their products within the UK, but working for yourself and providing your services for a fee)
• were recruited to the business outside of the UK
• hold a senior position in the business, with the authority to make decisions on its behalf and set up and run a registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary
• will be working full time for the business or subsidiary for the duration of your stay and will not carry out any other work
• do not own or control a majority of the overseas business
Newspaper, news agency or broadcast employees
As an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation you must also provide:
• a full description of the parent company’s activities, including details of assets and accounts
• confirmation that you will be representing them in the UK in a long term, full-time role
You can only extend your existing visa if you’re already in the UK.
You should apply before your current visa expires.
You must already have this visa as either:
• a representative of an overseas business
• an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation
You must also meet the following conditions:
• you’re still working for the same employer as when you were issued your previous visa
• you’re still working to establish the business’s first presence in the UK
• your employer’s principal place of business is still outside the UK
You must be in the UK to extend your visa.
A Representative of an Overseas Business visa can be extended for up to 2 years after the original visa duration of 3 years.
Your visa can be extended for 3 years if your previous Representative of an Overseas Business visa was issued before 1 October 2009.
You can apply to settle once you have been in the UK for 5 years and you have an ongoing job with the same company.
Your family members (‘dependants’) can come with you when you come to the UK on this visa. Your family members must have a visa if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
A ‘dependant’ is any of the following:
• your husband, wife or partner
• your child under 18
Your husband, wife or partner cannot come to the UK as your dependant if they own or control a majority of the overseas business you will be representing.
Dependants applying from inside the UK
Your dependants can apply to extend or switch their visas to stay with you if they’re already in the UK. They must apply online.
It’s best to submit your dependants’ applications at the same time as yours.
Members of your family cannot apply in the UK as your dependant if they hold a visitor visa.