Refusal of your Sole Representative visa and administrative review
Obtaining a sole representative visa can be a big step for a company looking to establish a branch or subsidiary in the UK – as many of the best Immigration solicitors in London have witnessed first-hand, a sole representative visa refusal can seriously hamper a business’s plans for expansion and growth, so it’s vital to get your sole representative visa application right. If the application is refused, administrative review is available – but again, knowing the process in advance is vital as timescales are short.
Sole representative of an overseas company
This visa route is open to individuals already employed by a ‘parent’ company overseas, wishing to come to the UK to set up a branch or subsidiary of the parent company in the UK. Eligibility for a sole representative visa is relatively straightforward, although in practice satisfying the requirements can be complex and it is always advisable to take advice from the best Immigration solicitors you can find to ensure the best possible chances of success.
To be eligible for a sole representative visa, you must apply from outside the EEA, have enough money to support yourself while you are in the UK, and satisfy the knowledge of English requirement. Nationals of majority English speaking countries such as the USA, Australia, New Zealand and many Caribbean states are exempt from the knowledge of English test.
In addition to these requirements, an applicant for a sole representative visa must satisfy the following conditions set down by the UK Immigration rules:
• The applicant for a sole representative visa must be recruited and employed outside the UK by a company whose headquarters and principal place of business are outside the UK
• He or she must have extensive related industry experience and knowledge
• He or she must hold a senior position within the company (but not be a major shareholder) and have full authority to make decisions on its behalf
• He or she must intend to establish the company’s first commercial presence in the UK, eg a registered branch or a wholly owned subsidiary
If your company already has a legal entity in the UK but doesn’t employ staff or transact business in the UK, it may still be possible to obtain a sole representative visa.
If the overseas business already has a sole representative in place who has been working to set up the UK branch or subsidiary, but wishes to replace him or her, this may also be possible.
As London Immigration lawyers, we regularly see both straightforward and ‘non-standard’ applications for sole representative visas. With the right approach to the application, it is usually possible to draft a sole representative visa application that will lead to a successful outcome.
Administrative Review of your sole representative visa refusal
In some cases, a sole representative visa will be refused. This may be because you simply cannot demonstrate that you satisfy the criteria. However, there are occasions when the caseworker dealing with your application will have made an error in his or her decision making. In this case, administrative review is available to challenge that decision – but you must do so swiftly.
As you will be applying from outside the UK for your administrative review, you have 28 days to do so. This is a longer period of time than those applying for administrative review from within the UK, but still does not leave much time to put together your request.
It’s important to remember that administrative review is not the same as an appeal. You can’t put fresh evidence forward in support of your application – administrative review is just that - a review of the original decision carried out by a different case worker. It looks at the decision that was made base don the evidence available at the time. This is why obtaining legal advice from top UK Immigration lawyers at the outset of your application is advisable – they can help you make sure your original application is as complete and as compelling as possible.
What happens if administrative review is unsuccessful?
If administrative review is unsuccessful, what are your options? You can apply for a judicial review of the administrative review process. This is a complex legal process and again, we would recommend you taking legal advice from solicitors experienced in Immigration judicial review before embarking on this course of action. In some cases, drafting a compelling ‘pre-action’ letter to the Home Office setting out the reasons why you are considering judicial review can be effective.
An alternative course of action can be to re-apply for a sole representative visa. If you did not have legal advice from a UK Immigration lawyer when you made your initial application, it’s worth talking to someone who can look at the refusal letter and advise on how to re-apply to give the best chance of success.
OTS Solicitors are Legal 500 recommended Immigration solicitors with extensive experience of acting for clients, both in applying for sole representative visas (even in non-standard cases), and in successful applications for administrative review on behalf of clients. Should you be considering an application for a sole representative visa, or have received a sole representative visa refusal, call 0203 959 9123 to book an appointment to come and discuss your case.