Recently published DTI figures report foreign direct investment has fallen slightly in the last 12 months. However the number of investment projects into the UK is still significant and has steadily risen over the past 5 years.

Types of foreign direct investment (FDI): United Kingdom

Types of investment projects 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18
New investments 820 1,058 1,130 1,237 1,179
(including Retentions)
677 740 821 822 714
Mergers and Acquisitions
(including Joint Ventures)
276 190 262 206 179
Total projects 1,773 1,988 2,213 2,265 2,072

Source – DTI

One particular project that we have been successfully working on is assisting an overseas multinational company with securing permission for their senior directors to travel to the UK to establish a branch of their overseas operation in the UK. Once the UK branch had been established, we also experienced great success in helping them to obtain a Sponsor Licence, enabling the company to transfer key staff from abroad to work on projects in the new UK office under a Tier 2 visa.

So what is a Sole Representative visa?

Although there is now an increasing number of applications under this category, it is still surprising how many people are not aware of its existence. A Sole Representative visa enables a senior employee of an overseas company to come to the UK to establish a branch or wholly owned subsidiary which currently has no presence here. This is also the most appropriate visa category for an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation posted on a long-term assignment to the UK.

Of course there are other criteria to successfully apply under this category. Amongst these, it is very important that the Overseas Representative who is coming to that UK is not a majority shareholder of the overseas company and that this category applies to the kind of business the company/client is doing. We have in the past been asked by a furniture manufacturer in Dubai who only manufactures the type and style of furniture that only his UAE clients would buy. Unless it can be shown that the product is marketable in the UK, a Sole Representative visa would not have been appropriate. It is important to establish that a company which wishes to establish a brand or subsidiary has a product or service which can be credibly marketed in the UK.

At Edwin Coe we are happy to talk to businesses who are interested in establishing a branch of an overseas company in the UK and wish to learn more, please contact any member of the Edwin Coe Immigration team.

Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

Edwin Coe LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership, registered in England & Wales (No.OC326366). The Firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A list of members of the LLP is available for inspection at our registered office address: 2 Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn, London, WC2A 3TH. “Partner” denotes a member of the LLP or an employee or consultant with the equivalent standing.

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