UK EXPANSION WORKER VISA
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The UK Expansion Worker visa is part of the Global Business Mobility route. It enables overseas businesses seeking to expand into the UK to temporarily assign senior managers and specialist employees, including business owners, to the UK to establish a British operation. Opening on 11 April 2022, it replaced the Representative of an Overseas Business visa.
Initial permission as a UK Expansion Worker can be granted for up to a year. This can be renewed for a further year, to a maximum of two continuous years. There is also an overall limit on the time allowed in this route, even if not continuous: five years in any six-year period. If the worker needs to remain in the UK for longer than that, they would need to switch to a different route (typically Skilled Worker). It is not possible to get indefinite leave to remain (settlement) as an Expansion Worker.
Most businesses can sponsor up to five Expansion Workers at any one time and they can bring family members.
In order for the worker to apply for immigration permission, they will need a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) number to enter onto the application form. The CoS must be assigned by the overseas business which is expanding into the UK and which has been approved to hold a UK Expansion Worker sponsor licence.
The requirements for getting a licence are in the sponsor guidance and there are both general Global Business Mobility rules (in section GBM 2) and extra Expansion Worker rules (section GBM 3). The latter are onerous and include:
GBM 3.3: the sponsor is not already actively trading in the UK (businesses that are actively trading in the UK would need to use the Skilled Worker / Senior or Specialist Worker route instead);
GBM 3.4: the sponsor has a UK “footprint”, meaning it can demonstrate that it has secured business premises here and/or has registered the branch/subsidiary with Companies House;
GBM 3.6: the sponsor has been active and trading overseas for at least three years unless one of the exceptions in paragraphs GBM 3.11-3.16 of the guidance applies.
The applicant’s salary for the role in the UK, as stated on the CoS, must be at least £42,400. This is known as the “general salary requirement”.
The documentation for this route will generally be extremely simple. There is no English language requirement so many applicants will just need to provide an ID. The hard work will have already been done to ensure that the CoS contains all the essential information.
One thing the applicant will need to provide is evidence that they meet the financial requirement (previously called the maintenance requirement). This means they will need to have held cash funds of at least £1,270 for at least 28 consecutive days ending not more than 31 days before the application is submitted.
It is also important to ensure that payslips or other evidence that demonstrates that the person has worked for the sponsor group overseas for at least 12 months are ready to provide if requested.
How much does it cost?
The current fees associated with each UK Expansion Worker application are:
Certificate of Sponsorship: £199
Application fee: £259
Immigration Health Surcharge: £624 per year
The sponsor licence costs £536. There is no Immigration Skills Charge.
Requirements for a Global Business Mobility Visa in a nutshell
In order to qualify for a Global Business Mobility – UK Expansion Worker Visa, you will need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:
You are aged 18 or over;
You are currently working for a business or organisation that is linked to your UK sponsor by common ownership or control;
You have worked outside the UK for the linked business or organisation for a cumulative period of at least 12 months, unless you are a high earner earning £73,900 per year or more or you are a Japanese national seeking to establish a UK branch or subsidiary of the linked business or organisation under the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement;
You have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship issued by your UK sponsor for the job you are planning to do;
The job you are planning to do is genuine;
The job you are planning to do is skilled to at least RQF Level 6 (graduate equivalent);
Your salary will be equal to or exceed both £42,400 per year and the ‘going rate’ for the job;
You have enough money to support yourself without relying on public funds;
You have provided a valid TB certificate if required.