The new Innovator visa and Start-up visa routes initially seemed like an improvement on the now-closed Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) categories with a lower (or non-existent) investment funds threshold and assessments of the business being carried out by people in the industry, rather than caseworkers in the Home Office. However, the initial take-up of these visas has been slow, due to the lack of clarity in the UK business immigration industry, including the endorsing bodies, about how the new visa route works.
There is one visa category, though, which still allows individuals to relocate to the UK to set up a business: the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa category. There are some requirements for this visa that means that it is not open to everyone, but for many individuals, it still provides a great way to open a business in the UK. It has the advantage of having no minimum capital requirements and is significantly more straight forward than either the start-up or innovator visa routes.
If you are coming to the UK as a sole representative you must:
As indicated previously, presuming that you meet the criteria above, the application process is fairly straightforward. When Sole Representative visa applications do go wrong and are refused, it is typically because the applicant provided inadequate supporting documents. This is an easy mistake to make as the application form is very sparse and generic and it doesn’t reflect all of the requirements that actually have to be met. It is critically important, therefore, to include a covering letter and a comprehensive business plan if you want to ensure that your application is approved the first time without either an outright refusal or a request for further information.
The sole representative business plan needs to set out the details of the business outside of the UK, the rationale for operating a registered branch in the UK and the vision for the long-term growth of the business. Whilst it needs to show a strong rationale for expansion and the opening of the representative branch in the UK market, it is important not to overstate the case in the business plan. Instead, the business plan needs to strike the balance between showing why there’s a business case for expanding into the UK whilst also explaining why the center of operations will remain overseas.
This delicate balance is not easily struck and the consequences of submitting a poorly written business plan that does not address all of these key points is very likely to be the refusal of your sole representative application. At Continuous Business Planning, we have invested the time and effort into understanding the sole representative visa scheme and encourage prospective applicants to lean on our expertise in order to maximise the chances that any attempt to secure a sole representative of an Overseas Business visa proves successful.
There are two services we provide that may be of interest to potential sole representative visa applicants.
For those people that have already written their own business plan but need advice as to whether the document meets the sole representative visa criteria, we offer our comprehensive visa business plan review service. The result is an actionable report with detailed recommendations for the improvement of the sole representative visa business plan.
If you would prefer to outsource the writing of the business plan to our team, we will gather detailed information about your overseas business, the rationale behind the UK representative branch and the long term vision of the company during an initial consultation and would then transform this information into a visa-compliant business plan in a way that is easy and stress-free for you. We will then review the full draft together and make sure you are familiar with the business plan so you are prepared in the event of an interview with the Home Office relating to your sole representative visa application.
If you want to conduct business in the UK, are interested in the Sole Representative Visa and need a business plan to support your application, please reach out today for a free, no-obligation initial consultation.