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UK Expansion Worker Visa

The UK Expansion Worker visa allows employees of overseas businesses to come to the UK to establish a new branch or subsidiary.

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What is the Expansion Worker Visa?

The UK Expansion Worker visa allows employees of an overseas business that is not yet trading in the UK to come here to establish a branch or subsidiary. It is part of the Global Worker Mobility Visa UK update to the immigration rules for 2022 and replaced the ‘Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa’.

Some key points to bear in mind about the UK Expansion Worker visa include:

  • The main difference between the old Representative of an overseas Business visa and the new Expansion Worker visa is that applicants must be sponsored by their overseas employer (this was not a requirement under the old scheme). This means the overseas employer must have a sponsor licence allowing them to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to the overseas worker.
  • If you are an employee of an overseas newspaper, news agency or broadcasting organisation posted on a long-term assignment to the UK, you should still apply under the Representative of an Overseas Business visa scheme1.
  • Overseas employees being sent to the UK under the UK Expansion Worker visa must be senior managers or specialist employees.
  • If you currently hold a valid (i.e. non-expired) Representative of an Overseas Business visa, you can still apply to extend your leave.
  • The UK Expansion Worker visa does not provide a direct route to ILR in the UK. However, it is possible to switch to a different visa in the UK, allowing you to gain ILR after living here for a qualifying period (typically 5 years).
  • It is possible to bring your dependant family members, including your spouse and children, with you to the UK.
  • UK Expansion Worker visa holders can stay in the UK for up to 12 months.

UK Expansion Worker Visa requirements

The UK Expansion Worker visa guidance states that applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship from their overseas employer
  • have worked for their employer outside the UK for a minimum period of 12 months
  • perform a role on the list of eligible occupations
  • meet the minimum salary requirements
  • have sufficient funds to support themselves in the UK

Sponsorship and sponsor licence requirements

Expansion Worker visa applicants must hold a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from their overseas employer. A CoS is an electronic document that contains details of the offer of sponsorship. If your employer is not currently on the list of approved sponsors, they will need to apply to the Home Office for a sponsorship licence. Your CoS must also have been granted within 3 months of your visa application.

For an overseas business to gain a sponsorship licence to sponsor a worker under the UK Expansion Worker visa scheme, they must satisfy the Home Office that they can offer employment that:

  • meets the skill-level requirement
  • meets the salary requirements
  • is genuine

In addition, overseas employers need to prove they:

  • meet the rules on third-party working (if this applies)
  • have a qualifying overseas business link – i.e. intend, and are able, to establish a new UK branch or wholly-owned subsidiary in the UK
  • are not trading in the UK currently
  • have a UK “footprint” – i.e. evidence of business premises in the UK (e.g. a lease and registration with Companies House (an overseas company branch or a new company that is a subsidiary of the overseas linked business)
  • have an overseas trading presence – i.e. actively trading in the 12 months before applying for a sponsor licence, and
  • credible plans to expand to the UK, i.e. a detailed business plan for UK expansion with financial projections

Duration of employment requirement

You must have been working for your overseas employer for at least 1 year unless you will be earning over £73,900 or you are a Japanese national working for a Japanese company that plans to expand to the UK.

Eligible occupation requirement

In order to make a successful Expansion Worker visa application, you will need to ensure your job is on the Home Office’s list of eligible occupations2. To verify this, you will need your standard occupation code (SOC) from your employer and check this is on the list of eligible occupations.

Minimum salary requirement

Expansion Worker Visa minimum salary is £42,400 or the ‘going rate’ for their job role (whichever is the higher amount). This includes basic pay and any additional guaranteed allowances. The going rate is the average annual gross salary for your job role in the UK. The list of going rates can be found on the Home Office Office website3.

Support funds requirement

You will need to show you have a minimum of £1,270 in your bank as proof you can support yourself when you first arrive in the UK. These support funds must have been in your bank for at least 28 days prior to applying. Those who have already been in the UK for 12 months or more may not need to meet this requirement.

UK Expansion Worker visa required documents

The documents to prove your eligibility for Expansion Worker Visa may include (please note this list is not exhaustive):

  • your unique Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) reference number (from your employer)
  • your current valid passport
  • details of your job title and annual pay
  • the standard occupational code for your job
  • details of your employer, including their name and sponsor licence number
  • bank statements showing personal savings of at least £1,270 to support yourself in the UK when you first arrive
  • evidence of your relationship with your dependant partner and/or children (if they are part of your application), e.g. marriage or civil partnership certificate and birth certificate
  • tuberculosis test results (this only applies if you are from a listed TB country)

Depending on your circumstances, you may need to provide more documents.

How to apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa?

To apply for an Expansion Worker visa, you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Ensure that you have your Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer
  2. Complete and submit the online UK Expansion Worker Visa application form4
  3. Pay any application fees (see below)
  4. Prove your identity – either by making and attending a biometric appointment at your nearest visa application centre (or UKVCAS) or by using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ mobile phone app. You will be advised which options you can use when you apply.
  5. Upload any documents requested by the Home Office to support your application

Depending on your circumstances, you may be invited to an interview to review your eligibility before a decision is made by the Home Office.

UK Expansion Worker Visa Fees

Expansion Worker visa application fee is £259 per person . Other costs include Biometric fee £19.20 and Immigration healthcare surcharge: £624 (this allows the applicants access to the National Health Service while in the UK).

Change employers on a UK Expansion Worker visa

It is possible to change employers as UK Expansion Worker visa holders, but you will need to submit a change of employment application to do so. You will also need to submit a change of employment application to change to a different occupation code with your current employer. You will not need to apply to change your visa, however, if you are moving to a new job with your existing employer with the same occupation code.

The process of changing employment for a UK Expansion Worker Visa is broadly the same as when you first applied. As such, you need to:

  • complete the online application form5
  • prove your identity
  • pay any required fees, and
  • provide details of your new employer and CoS

Note: You will be permitted to stay in the UK and work for your current employer while your Expansion Worker extension change of employment application is being considered, as long as your visa remains valid.

UK Expansion Worker dependent visa

As an Expansion Worker visa holder, you bring your dependant family members with you to the UK. Your dependent family members include your:

  • husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner (please note: if you are unmarried, you will need to show you have been in a relationship with your partner for at least 2 years)
  • child under the age of 18
  • child over the age of 18 if they are dependant on you and not living a fully independent life

If your family members are applying from outside the UK, they must submit their own application form as your partner6 or child7. Each family member's application should include the unique reference number from your Expansion Worker visa application. Your dependants will also need to prove their identity, pay the necessary application fees, and submit any evidence requested.

UK Expansion Worker visa extension

You can extend your Expansion Worker visa for a further 12 months, up to a maximum stay of 2 years. To make a successful extension application, you will need to show you are still in the same position you held when you last applied for an Expansion Worker Visa (i.e. the same occupation code and employer).

UK Expansion Worker Visa to settlement

There is no direct route from an Expansion Worker visa to indefinite leave to remain (ILR). While there is no Global Business Mobility Visa settlement option, those wishing to settle here can apply for a different visa type when in the UK. Visas that lead to ILR include the following:

In most cases, once you hold a qualifying visa, you will be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after 5 years of residence in the UK. It is even possible to gain ILR after just 3 years with visas such as the Global Talent visa. Once you have ILR, you can then apply for British citizenship after a further 1 year.

To discuss which visa is best for you, speak to our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or by email at info@reissedwards.co.uk.

References:

1 GOV.UK: Representative of an overseas business

2 GOV.UK: Eligible occupations for global business mobility

3 GOV.UK: Going rates for occupations under global business mobility

4 GOV.UK: Online application form

5 GOV.UK: Online application form

6 GOV.UK: Application form for partner

7 GOV.UK: Application form for child

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