UK Expansion Worker Visa 2024: Facilitating Growth

1. Introduction to the UK Expansion Worker Visa


The UK Expansion Worker Visa plays a crucial role in facilitating the growth of overseas businesses in the UK. This visa category is specifically designed for skilled workers aiming to establish the first branch or subsidiary of their overseas business in Britain. It allows eligible businesses to sponsor senior managers or specialized workers who are assigned to the UK temporarily for work related to the business’s expansion within the UK market.

This visa has replaced the unsponsored sole representative provisions of the Representative of an Overseas Business route. However, individuals already in the UK under the old route can seek further permission without switching to the new category, maintaining access for those with existing permission.

As part of the Global Business Mobility (GMB) Visa umbrella, the UK Expansion Worker Visa is a reformative approach post-Brexit, aiming to foster economic growth and trade. Visa holders are authorized to work in their specific sponsored job, engage in voluntary work, and pursue educational opportunities. They can also be accompanied by their family members, including a partner and dependent children.

Initially, the visa grants a 2-year period for establishing the UK office, after which the holder can explore adding other routes to their visa license for further growth and development.

Eligibility Criteria for UK Expansion Worker Visa UK

To be eligible for this visa, applicants must be at least 18 years old and employed by a linked overseas business at the time of application. This employment should have a direct connection to the UK enterprise they intend to join or establish. While a minimum employment period is generally required, some exceptions exist. Unlike the previous route, this visa necessitates having a UK sponsor to facilitate the applicant’s relocation and employment in the UK.

CriteriaRequirement Details
Age RequirementApplicant must be at least 18 years old
Employment with a Linked Overseas BusinessEmployed by a business with a direct relationship to the UK enterprise
Minimum Employment PeriodPrescribed minimum period with the linked overseas business (exceptions may apply)
Sponsorship RequirementMust have a UK sponsor to support relocation and employment
Eligibility Criteria for UK Expansion Worker Visa
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    2. Sponsor Requirements for Establishing New UK Branches


    To sponsor UK Expansion Workers, the employing organization must be a branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of an established overseas business. It’s important to note that the UK Expansion Worker route is specifically designed for businesses that have not yet commenced trading in the UK.

    Consider Alternative Visa Categories for Established UK Businesses

    If a linked overseas employer intends to send a senior or specialist employee on a temporary work assignment to an already trading UK business, they should explore alternative visa categories such as the Senior or Specialist Worker visa or the Skilled Worker visa. However, for these routes, the UK employer must hold a valid sponsorship license in order to sponsor employees under these categories.

    Selecting the appropriate visa route is crucial to ensure compliance with the UK immigration system and to meet the specific requirements of the business’s situation. For businesses planning to establish new ventures in the UK, the UK Expansion Worker visa provides a suitable pathway, while other visa options are available for businesses that are already operating in the UK market.

    3. Points-Based System for UK Expansion Worker Visa


    The UK Expansion Worker visa operates on a points-based system requiring applicants to accumulate a total of 60 points across three key criteria: sponsorship, skill, and salary. This system is designed to ensure that only qualified individuals who meet specific standards can apply for the visa.

    Applicants must secure 20 points for sponsorship, which involves having a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a licensed sponsor. This sponsorship should align with genuine employment fulfilling the overseas work requirement. Eligibility for sponsorship is based on current employment with an overseas linked employer for a minimum of 12 months, with exemptions for certain high-earners and nationals.

    To earn points in these categories, the applicant must be sponsored for a job role meeting the appropriate minimum skill level. Moreover, the role’s annual salary should be at least £42,400 or the ‘going rate’ for that specific job, whichever is higher.

    Applicants from certain countries need to provide a valid TB test certificate. There’s also a financial requirement for those who have been in the UK for less than 12 months, needing proof of funds of at least £1,270, unless maintenance is covered by the sponsor.

    Criteria and PointsAdditional Notes
    Sponsorship – 20Valid CoS; employment with overseas linked employer; specific exemptions apply
    Skill – 20Sponsored job meeting minimum skill level
    Salary – 20At least £42,400 or the job’s going rate
    TB Test (for listed countries)Valid TB test certificate required
    Financial Requirement (for certain applicants)Proof of funds of £1,270; conditions apply
    UK Expansion Worker Visa: Summary of Points Allocation and Additional Requirements

    Meeting both the points-based and additional requirements is crucial for a successful UK Expansion Worker visa application. These criteria ensure applicants are suitably skilled and financially prepared for their role in the UK.

    4. Specific Conditions and Obligations for Sponsors


    To sponsor UK Expansion Workers, the employing organization must be a branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of an established overseas business. However, this route is exclusive to businesses that have not yet commenced trading in the UK.

    Sponsorship AspectKey Details and Requirements
    Organization EligibilityMust be a branch or wholly-owned subsidiary of an established overseas business, not yet trading in the UK.
    Appropriate Visa SelectionFor senior/specialist employees going to a trading UK business, consider visas like Senior/Specialist Worker or Skilled Worker. A valid UK sponsorship license is required.
    License and Criteria for SponsorshipSponsors need a valid license for UK Expansion Workers, ensuring the job offer meets skill and salary benchmarks. Issuance of a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is mandatory.
    UK ‘Footprint’ EvidenceProof of UK business premises or Companies House registration is essential. The sponsor must demonstrate active overseas trade for at least 3 years and a credible plan to establish a UK branch/subsidiary within 2 years of license receipt.
    Rating & CoS Allocation ProcessRating depends on the Authorizing Officer’s (AO) location. AOs in the UK lead to an A-rating and up to 5 CoS. AOs abroad start with a provisional rating and 1 CoS, which can change to an A-rating upon successful entry clearance.
    License Validity & Compliance ImpactThe 4-year license expects establishment of a UK trading presence within 2 years, and is non-renewable. Failure to establish this presence reduces CoS allocation to zero, risking inability to sponsor new workers/extensions and potential license revocation.
    UK Expansion Worker Visa: Specific Conditions and Obligations for Sponsors

    5. UK Expansion Worker Visa Application Process


    To apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa, the applicant needs to follow a straightforward online application process using their Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) reference number. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the application process:

    Application AspectKey Details and Requirements
    Online ApplicationComplete an online form using the CoS reference number, up to 3 months before the UK work start date.
    Document SubmissionProvide proof of identity and supporting documents. Attend an appointment for biometric information, if required.
    Required DocumentsIncludes a valid CoS, passport/travel document, evidence of 12-month employment with the employer outside the UK (if applicable), proof of funds (where necessary), and a tuberculosis test certificate (for certain countries).
    Decision TimelineDecision typically within 3 weeks for applications outside the UK and 8 weeks for those within the UK, after submitting all necessary documents and fees.
    Steps and Procedures for a UK Expansion Worker Visa

    By following these steps and ensuring that all required documents are submitted accurately, the applicant can facilitate a smooth and timely processing of their UK Expansion Worker visa application.

    Application Costs

    When applying for a UK Expansion Worker visa, applicants need to consider various costs involved in the process. Here’s an overview of the expenses:

    Cost AspectDetails
    Application Fee£259 for the UK Expansion Worker visa.
    Immigration Health SurchargeAnnual charge of £624.
    Proof of FundsApplicants must show at least £1,270 in funds, where applicable.
    Sponsorship CostsThe sponsor pays £536 for a Temporary Worker sponsor license, and £21 for each CoS issued for a UK Expansion Worker.
    Fees and Expenses for a UK Expansion Worker Visa

    It’s essential for applicants and sponsoring businesses to budget for these costs when preparing to apply for the UK Expansion Worker visa. Ensuring that all necessary fees are paid on time can help facilitate a smooth and successful visa application process.

    6. Duration of Stay in the UK


    A successful application for a UK Expansion Worker visa grants the individual leave to remain in the UK for a specific duration.

    Aspect of Visa ValidityDetails and Conditions
    Initial Visa DurationThe lesser of 12 months after the job start date on the CoS or 14 days after the job end date.
    Extension of VisaExtensions are possible, capped at a maximum of 12 additional months. Total maximum stay on this visa is 2 years.
    Cumulative Period LimitCounts towards the 5-year maximum in any 6-year period on GBM routes, affecting those who’ve previously been on GBM or related visas like Intra-company transfers.
    Path to SettlementThis visa does not lead directly to settlement (indefinite leave to remain). However, transitioning to another immigration route that offers settlement is possible if eligibility criteria are met.
    Validity Period and Extensions for a UK Expansion Worker Visa

    7. FAQs on UK Expansion Worker Visa


    1. What is the UK Expansion Worker visa?

      The UK Expansion Worker visa is designed for companies based outside the UK that do not have an established trading presence in the country. It allows such companies to send a senior individual to expand their business operations into the UK.

    2. How much does the UK Expansion Worker visa cost?

      The application fee for a UK Expansion Worker visa is £259. Additionally, the applicant is required to pay an annual healthcare surcharge of £624. Moreover, there are costs associated with applying for a sponsor license under this route.

    3. Is sponsorship necessary for the UK Expansion Worker visa?

      Yes, sponsorship is a crucial requirement to obtain a UK Expansion Worker visa. The applicant must be assigned a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a UK sponsor authorized by the Home Office to sponsor this category of worker.

    4. What are the eligibility criteria for the UK Expansion Worker visa?

      To be eligible for the UK Expansion Worker visa, the applicant must be at least 18 years old, working for an overseas linked employer, and have at least 12 months of employment with them unless they qualify for specific exemptions. They must also meet the skill and salary requirements for the sponsored job role.

    5. Can the UK Expansion Worker visa be extended?

      Yes, the UK Expansion Worker visa can be extended for up to 12 months beyond the initial visa duration. However, the total maximum time an individual can stay on this visa is 2 years.

    6. Does the UK Expansion Worker visa lead to settlement in the UK?

      No, the UK Expansion Worker visa does not provide a direct path to settlement (indefinite leave to remain) in the UK. However, eligible applicants may explore other immigration routes that could lead to settlement if they meet the respective eligibility criteria.

    7. Are there any restrictions on the cumulative stay for UK Expansion Workers?

      Yes, UK Expansion Workers are subject to the maximum cumulative period for other Global Business Mobility (GBM) routes. They can stay in the UK for a maximum of 5 years in any 6-year period if they have spent time on any of the other GBM visas or as an Intra-company graduate trainee or intra-company transferee.

    8. Can family members accompany UK Expansion Workers to the UK?

      Yes, family members, including partners and dependent children, may accompany UK Expansion Workers to the UK, provided they meet the relevant requirements for dependents.

    9. Is there a financial requirement for UK Expansion Worker visa applicants?

      Yes, applicants for UK Expansion Worker visas may need to demonstrate proof of funds of at least £1,270, where applicable, unless the sponsor certifies maintenance under this route.

    10. What happens if the overseas business fails to establish a trading presence within the specified timeframe?

      If the overseas business fails to establish a trading presence in the UK within the relevant timeframe, the sponsor’s CoS allocation for this route will be reduced to zero. They will be unable to sponsor new workers or extension applications, and their license could even be revoked.

    For further information and details please refer to Appendix Global Business Mobility Gov.UK.