Immigration Corner: I need an overseas business visa
Dear Mr Bassie,
I have been offered a longterm assignment in the United Kingdom, and I have been advised that in order to take up the position, I would need to obtain an overseas business visa. What are the criteria I would need to meet in order to be successful?
Persons can apply to go to the United Kingdom as a representative of an overseas business if they are from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland, and if they are the sole representative of an overseas company planning to set up a United Kingdom branch or a wholly owned subsidiary for an overseas parent company; or if they are an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency, or broadcasting organisation posted on a long-term assignment there. Persons must also meet the other eligibility requirements.
In terms of how long it will take for the visa to be processed, a person can apply for a visa up to three months before he/she travels to the United Kingdom. However, a decision is usually made within three weeks, depending on the processing times from where the application originated.
There are certain application fees associated with this type of visa, and a representative of an overseas business visa costs PS535; and an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency, or broadcasting organisation costs the same. The applicant must also be prepared to pay the health-care surcharge as part of his/her application and should check how much is needed to pay before applying.
A person can go to the United Kingdom for an initial period of three years and may be able to extend his/her visa for another two years. After a person has been in the United Kingdom for five years, he/she can apply for permission to settle permanently in the United Kingdom.
The successful applicant will be able to work for his/her employer full time; take his/her family, ie., his/her 'dependents' with him/her to the United Kingdom and extend the visa multiple times. He/she may also apply to settle in the United Kingdom after being there for five years. That person may also stay in the United Kingdom if the company's circumstances change and he/she have been there for more than two years, for example, if the company appoints a superior in the United Kingdom.
However, persons cannot work for themselves or any other business, or stay in the United Kingdom if the sole representative arrangement has been terminated by the employer. It should also be noted that persons cannot switch to this visa from any other visa category or get access to public funds.
In order to be eligible for this visa, persons must apply from outside the EEA; have enough money to support themselves without help from public funds; and meet the English requirement.
If a person is going to the United Kingdom as a sole representative, he/she must be recruited and employed from outside of the United Kingdom by a company whose headquarters and/or principal place of business are outside the United Kingdom. That person must have extensive related industry experience and knowledge.
The individual should also hold a senior position within the company, but not be a major shareholder, and have full authority to make decisions on the company's behalf. The person should also intend to establish the company's first commercial presence in the United Kingdom, for example a registered branch or a wholly owned subsidiary. A person may also be eligible if the company has a legal entity in the United Kingdom that does not employ staff or transact business.
It is also worth noting that if a company has been working to establish a United Kingdom branch or subsidiary, but it is not yet set up, a person can apply to replace a previous sole representative. Also, as an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency, or broadcasting organisation, persons can go to the United Kingdom if they are being posted there on a long-term assignment.
- John S. Bassie is a barrister/attorney-at-law who practises law in Jamaica. He is a justice of the peace, a Supreme Court appointed mediator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a Chartered Arbitrator, and a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association (UK). Email:firstname.lastname@example.org