The requirements for applying for a sole representative visa were drafted in the Rules in a relatively simple way. As a result of that, many overseas companies were unlawfully applying for the sole representative visa and these numbers of applications were significantly increased during 2019-20. This resulted in a bottleneck with only fewer applications being granted.
The Home Office in the UK published a statement of changes to the Immigration Rules as a precautionary measure amidst of Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in May 2020. This was one of the biggest immigration news in the UK in 2020. These changes were implemented on 04.06.20. These new changes have made the application process even more complex and difficult. It is essentially advisable for any organisation planning to apply for a sole representative visa in 2021, to consult the best immigration solicitor in the UK.
Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rule for Sole Representative Visa
The Government of the UK has furnished a new Statement of Changes in front of parliament under the CP 232 Immigration Rules on 14.05.20. As a result of this, the immigration rules under rule 144 for Representatives of Overseas Businesses or, Sole Representative Visa have been changed.
The government of the UK has decided to make the grant process for the sole representative visa more tough and difficult to achieve. The prime change is the revelation of the subjective test of genuineness.
A few of the statements of immigration rule target to clarify the existing criteria only. The new rules specify that the foreign parent organisation must continue its operation in its native country outside of the UK, once its presence in the UK has been established. The change in the statement makes clear that a sole representative must be a senior employee of the parent company and is not allowed to join another job under a different employer or, to start his own business in the UK. Now, these requirements were already mentioned in the existing set of rules; however, it is clear that the Home Office has mentioned them again to emphasize their importance to applicants.
However, the changes include the following set of amendments which may increase the difficulty to obtain a sole representative visa further,
- Genuineness of intention: Overseas organisation shall not be allowed to appoint a sole representative in the UK unless the company has genuine intentions to build a wholly-owned subsidiary or branch in the UK. If the visa Entry Clearance Officer finds the applicant suspicious during his/her sole representative visa UK interview and thinks that the organisation is planning to build the headquarters in the UK, the officer will reject the application immediately.
- Applicant’s experience and skills: The applicant must be able to demonstrate and substantiate his/her level of experience, essential skills, necessary knowledge, and authoritative confidence to become a sole representative in the UK on behalf of the parent company.
- More restrictions for stakeholders: The changes in rules will now restrict people holding a majority stake in the parent overseas business to obtain a sole representative visa.
- Changes in rule for applications of dependents: The new amendment will now restrict the applications of dependents of the sole representatives more. They are no more allowed to bring in their spouse, unmarried partner, civil partner, or same-sex partner if that dependent holds a majority stake in the overseas company or, controls or, owns the foreign parent company.
- Changes in extension: The existing criteria for the extension have been amended only to explicate that the parent overseas organisation must build the wholly-owned subsidiary or branch in the UK only.
However, the above changes in the immigration rule of the UK have made the route of sole representative visa more critical and tough to obtain for a genuine overseas company even.
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