Personal Immigration
Business Immigration

Can Sole Representatives Be Shareholders?

The Immigration Rules require that an applicant for a sole representative visa is not “a majority shareholder in the overseas business”.

What is a majority shareholder?

The Home Office guidance states that they will refuse applications where an applicant’s shareholding is more than 50% of the available shares. This means an applicant can still be the largest shareholder, providing they do not own more than 50%.

My business doesn’t have shares

If your business does not have shares, then there are no specific requirements as to the control you can have over it.

However, you should bear in mind that a purpose of the shareholding requirement is to ensure that the representative is genuinely a senior employee who will work to establish the business. If the employee has the ability to control their own assignment, then this could lead to the application being subject to a higher degree of scrutiny than usual.

Can I own shares in the UK company?

No, because when you apply to extend your leave and for indefinite leave to remain you will need evidence that all shares are held by the overseas parent company.

Can I simply sell my shares in the overseas business?

Yes, you can sell them. However, it is required that you provide the previous year’s share register when applying, so you will need to provide evidence of selling your shares since then, and an updated share register.

What if I don’t want to sell my shares, or I want to be a shareholder in the UK company?

If an applicant wants to maintain their shareholding in the company or hold shares in the UK company then there are a number of other potential possible immigration routes:

  • Tier 1 (Investor): Where the investment in the UK will be at least £2 million.
  • Tier 1 (Entrepreneur): Where at least £200,000 (£50,000 in some limited circumstances) will be invested and spent for the purposes of the business, and the applicant will take an active role in the running of the business as a director.
  • Tier 2 (General)/(Intra Company Transfer): This category is for skilled workers, and where the applicant’s shareholding is over 10% can only be used if the salary to be paid in the UK is at least £159,600.
  • Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer): This category is also for skilled workers. There are no restrictions on shareholding but it does not lead to permanent settlement in the UK.

Contact our Sole Representative Visa Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance regarding an application for entry clearance, leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain as a Sole Representative of an Overseas Business, contact our business immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or via our enquiry form below.


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