It’s been a few years since Brexit came into full effect, and while that decision to withdraw from the European Union had some positive influence on the UK’s ability to set up trade with non-EU markets, it still had a counter effect on the nation’s economy. With an aim to remedy that and nourish the Kingdom’s economic development, the British government set up a new UK visa under the Global Business Mobility routes, commonly referred to as the UK Expansion Worker Visa.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the following:
The UK Expansion Worker Visa is one of five routes under the Global Business Mobility Visa options that aim at attracting foreign business into the British economy. UK Expansion Worker Visas allow companies and corporations of all sizes to set up a new branch of their overseas business in the UK, provided they have yet to begin trading there.
Although the UK Expansion Worker Visa demands that an individual holds a senior manager or specialist position to qualify for the permit, it is not to be confused with the ‘Senior or Specialist Worker Visa’ under the Global Business Mobility routes. The main difference between the two is that the former caters explicitly to the setting up of new branches of a foreign international company that has yet to start operations in the UK.
The applicant – or senior manager/specialist employee – must be sponsored by their employing company, and present a Certificate of Sponsorship to acquire the visa. Once obtained, the individual holds the right to study or volunteer in the UK during their permit’s validity, and may bring along their immediate family members, provided they meet the qualifying criteria.
Individuals who acquire the UK Expansion Worker Visa may benefit from certain advantages, including:
- The right to work in the UK and explore the nation
- The right to bring along their spouse and children under the age of 18
- The right to partake in volunteer work in the UK
- The right to travel freely in and out of the UK
As every individual will require sponsorship from their employing company to obtain the UK Expansion Worker Visa permit, they are not allowed to partake in any other employment activities during their permit’s validity, specifically in the UK.
Moreover, obtaining the permit does not equal qualifying for citizenship and residency benefits such as the right to apply for State Pension, or indefinite leave to remain in the UK – otherwise referred to as permanent residence in the UK.
There are a few eligibility requirements that must be met for individuals to obtain the UK Expansion Worker Visa, and start setting up a UK branch of their established overseas business, namely:
- Individuals must hold and present a Certificate of Sponsorship from their employer.
- Individuals must have worked for their employing company for no less than 12 months prior to arriving in the UK.
- Individuals must have a profession that is among the list of qualifying professions.
- Individuals must receive the minimum required salary for their position.
General requirements for the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
Before you can submit an application for the UK Expansion Worker Visa, you must demonstrate proof of your sponsorship by your employer, which is usually proven with an up-to-date, valid Certificate of Sponsorship.
The certificate is an electronic record containing a reference number reflecting your occupation code and all the relevant information regarding your role and responsibilities that you’ll be carrying out in the UK as a representative of your employing company.
You must acquire the Certificate of Sponsorship within the three months immediately preceding your visa application date. For you to obtain it, your employer has to be registered as a qualified business approved by the Home Office in the UK. In cases where the employer has not been previously registered and approved as a sponsor, they must apply for a UK Expansion Worker Visa Sponsor License.
Keep in mind that your employer/sponsor has to be listed as A-rated on the Home Office’s register of licensed sponsors, except in the following cases:
- Where you have previously received authorization to work in the UK under the UK Expansion Worker Visa, and are requesting an extension for your Visa to continue working for that same sponsor/employer who’s registered in your previous permit
- Where you are the Authorizing Officer for your UK sponsor, and they have a provisional rating on the Home Office’s list of licensed sponsors
When your application is being considered, the Home Office in the UK will take into account several factors, including:
- Whether or not your UK Expansion Worker sponsor has shown a genuine necessity for the job to occur in the UK
- Whether or not you have the required experience, skills, and qualifications to perform your role as described
- Your sponsor’s previous history of compliance with the UK’s immigration system
Conditions of acquiring the Global Mobility Visa UK 2022
As previously mentioned, to be eligible for the UK Expansion Worker Visa, you must present the Home Office with valid proof of your sponsorship to perform your employment activities in the UK.
Should there be any discrepancies in your application, or any grounds for suspicion that your position either does not exist, is made up, or was created for the sole purpose of you applying for a UK Expansion Worker Visa, your application will be rejected.
As the purpose of the Visa is to expand business operations to the UK, the Home Office will only consider applicants who have not entered into any contractual agreement – whether in a temporary or permanent capacity – with a third party that isn’t their original sponsor.
All applicants to the UK Expansion Worker Visa must have been working with their employing company outside the UK for at least 12 months prior to lodging their application. An exception is only granted to those who:
- Earn more than €85,588 annually – or £73,900 more specifically
- Are Japanese citizens who are working for a Japanese company that is expanding its operations to the UK
Before submitting your application to the Home Office, you must know whether or not your occupation qualifies you for a UK Expansion Worker Visa. To determine your eligibility status for this Global Business Mobility Visa, you must be aware of your position’s four-digit occupation code, which is usually presented by your employer, or on your Certificate of Sponsorship. Once you have that information, you can compare it against the Home Office’s database of eligible occupations.
Another factor to consider before submitting your application is whether or not you meet the minimum eligible salary to sustain your stay in the UK. The general salary threshold required for the UK Expansion Worker route can either be an annual salary equal to or exceeding €49,062 per annum – or £42,400 more specifically; or your role’s market value, whichever is higher.
As every distinctive occupation has its market value, you may need clarification on determining your own. In that case, you may check the current going rate for your position against the Global Business Mobility’s official list of going rates for eligible occupations.
Every applicant must pay the below-required fees to succeed in lodging their application for the UK Expansion Worker Visa (Global Business Mobility):
- Around €300 – or £259 more specifically – covering the application fee
- Around €722 – or £624 more specifically – covering their annual healthcare surcharge in the UK
Moreover, applicants must demonstrate proof of having at least €1,470 – or £1,270 more specifically – in their accounts, unless they are formally exempt from proving that.
There are no language requirements for obtaining the UK Expansion Worker Visa – meaning you won’t have to prove your English language proficiency with any tests or certificates. You don’t even need to know English to acquire it.
There are a few necessary documents that you’ll have to submit to file a complete application to the Home Office. While additional documents may be required depending on the concerned authority’s decision or your circumstances, the general list includes the following:
- Information about your employer and their sponsor license number
- The reference number of your Certificate of Sponsorship which is to be provided by your employer/sponsor
- Your valid passport or any other recognized travel documents that reflect your identity and nationality, with at least one blank page for your visa stamp
- A certified document stating your job title, annual accrued salary, and job occupation code
- Bank statements demonstrating proof of your sufficient funds
- Proof of your relationship with your children and spouse should they be included in your application
- A certified copy of your tuberculosis test results – depending on your country of origin
- Valid ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) Certificate – applicable only where your work requires extensive sensitive research at a Ph.D. level or higher
The above documents will have to be presented in their original form and as certified translations if the originals aren’t in English or Welsh.
Since the Expansion Worker Visa is one out of five of the Global Business Mobility routes, which aim at attracting foreign business into the British economy, those who are successful in their application will acquire a ‘Global Mobility Visa UK settlement permit.’ They may also be allowed to bring along their partner and children as their “dependents.” In other words, they may extend their temporary residency rights to their immediate nuclear family and relocate to the UK together.
To be sure whether or not your partner or children qualify as dependents, you must ensure they meet the following criteria:
- Your included partner is your spouse, unmarried companion, or civil partner
- Your child is under the age of 18, even if they were born in the UK
- Your child is above the age of 18, and resides in the UK as your dependent
Should your immediate family members qualify, their visas will expire on the same day as yours. Do remember to show proof of your relationship to your family members to the concerned government officials, whether by demonstrating a birth certificate, marriage certificate, or otherwise.
Requirements for partners
For your partner to qualify as your dependent and join your settlement in the UK, you have to provide evidence of one of the following:
- That you are both partners in a legally recognized marriage or civil union in the UK
- That you and your partner have been co-inhabiting/living together for a period of no less than two years at the time of your application
Requirements for children
Any of your children who are 16 or over have to meet the following criteria to qualify:
- They must live with you, unless their studies require them to be abroad at a boarding school, university, or college.
- They must neither be married nor in a civil partnership.
- They must not have any children of their own.
- You must be able to support them financially, and demonstrate proof of your financial support to them.
If your dependent children live with you, you must demonstrate proof by presenting bank statements or credit card bills reflecting their expenses.
Financial requirements for added family members
As each family member will be considered a financial liability, you must demonstrate proof of having sufficient funds to support their stay during your settlement in the UK, based on the following rates:
- Around €330 – or £285 more specifically – for your partner
- Around €365 – or £315 more specifically – for the first included child
- Around €232 – or £200 more specifically – for every additional child
The visa application process is straightforward. If you’re applying from outside the UK, you’ll have to submit your application via the online portal using your Certificate of Sponsorship reference number.
You may submit your application up to three months prior to the day your work commences in the UK. Remember that you’ll have to prove your identity by undergoing a biometric check; or presenting scanned copies of your identification documents.
Once you lodge your application with all the required documents, the concerned authorities should get back to you with their decision within the following three weeks.
There are certain cases where the authorities’ approval might take longer than three weeks, and that’s either because:
- The relevant authorities require further verification of your documents
- You may be requested to attend a formal interview
- You may have a criminal conviction holding you back
Nevertheless, you may also opt for fast-tracking your application, albeit for an additional fee.
Validity of the visa
Individuals whose applications get accepted will get an entry permit to the UK with validity for either one year following the commencement date of their job, as specified in their Certificate of Sponsorship, or for the period indicated in their Certificate of Sponsorship, plus an additional 14 days, depending on which of the two timeframes is shorter.
Holders of the visa may extend their permits for an additional 12 months should they wish to reside longer in the UK. Note that the maximum allowed period in which you can stay in the UK with this visa is only two years.
Rights to Settlement in the UK
The UK Expansion Worker Visa does not grant you permanent residency rights in the UK, nor is it a direct route to settlement in the United Kingdom. Yet, with that being said, you may be able to use this visa and start planning for your settlement in the UK.
For you to be on your path to immigration, you first have to arrive in the UK, file the respective application form, and fulfill all the conditions stipulated by the government for you to successfully be on the route most suited to your situation and needs.
Employers who wish to sponsor their workers in the UK may do so through one of five routes under the Global Business Mobility Visas. These five routes – the UK Expansion Worker Visa, Secondment Worker Visa, Service Supplier Visa, Graduate Trainee Visa, and the Senior and Specialist Worker Visa – came into effect on 11 April 2022. They are aimed at foreign international companies that wish to expand or solidify their operations in the UK by temporarily designating their employees to work in the Kingdom.
Applying for the Sponsor License
Companies of all sizes may benefit from the Global Business Mobility Visa routes provided they have an established trading presence outside the United Kingdom and an acknowledgeable connection to a company based and operating in the UK.
For a UK company to receive its Sponsor License and commence with its business plans, it’ll have to meet the following conditions:
- The company must have an established presence in the UK, wherein the company has a footprint in the United Kingdom that can be demonstrated by a physical location in the UK, or a registration number at the Companies House in the UK.
- The company must not engage in business activities in the UK before receiving the Sponsor License. However, it must already be operational and trading overseas for at least three years.
- The company must demonstrate to the Home Office its capabilities to successfully expand its operations into the UK and finance its development by providing a credible business plan reflecting its growth strategy.
- The company must have business connections with an overseas establishment providing in-demand employees.
- The company must hire essential employees who are rightly qualified to manage the Sponsor License.
- The company must be capable of meeting the duties and responsibilities affiliated with the Sponsor License.
Any overseas company that wishes to expand its business operations to the UK may consider taking advantage of the UK Expansion Worker route, allowing them to send their senior managers and specialist employees to the United Kingdom to establish and manage their business operations there.
If you want to know more about UK visas and British citizenship, have a look at these articles:
- Innovator Visa UK
- Entrepreneur Visa UK
- Indefinite Leave to Remain vs. British Citizenship: A Complete Guide
- UK Citizenship By Investment – The Ultimate Guide By Experts
- UK Citizenship by Descent
- Everything about the British Citizenship Application
- Permanent Residence UK
- British Citizenship: How to Become a British Citizen and Live Legally
- Global Talent Visa UK
- UK Secondment Worker Visa – All You Need to Know!
- UK Graduate Trainee Visa: Expert Guide 2024
- UK Visa: Options Open to You and How to Apply
- Start-Up Visa UK
Frequently Asked Questions about the UK Expansion Worker Visa
What is the UK Expansion Worker Visa?
The UK Expansion Worker Visa allows corporations to set up a new branch of their overseas business in the UK, provided it has not already begun trading there.
How much is the UK Expansion Worker Visa?
Primary applicants for the visa will have to set aside around €300 for their application fee, and €722 for their annual healthcare insurance coverage in the UK. They must also demonstrate proof of having around €1,470 in their bank account.
Does the UK have a citizenship-by-investment scheme?
The UK citizenship-by-investment scheme is more of a residency-by-investment program that leads to citizenship by naturalization. Investment sums differ depending on the timeline in which you’d like to settle in the UK and receive your permanent residence permit.
Is the UK Expansion Worker Visa the same as the Senior and Specialist Worker Visa?
No, they’re not the same. The Expansion Worker Visa caters solely to the setting up of an overseas business in the UK.
Do I have the right to settlement with a Global Business Mobility Visa?
No, holders of a Global Business Mobility Visa permit are not directly granted the right to settlement in the UK. Instead, they’ll have to file a separate application to begin their immigration process.
How can I obtain the Certificate of Sponsorship?
Your employer/sponsor is responsible for acquiring the Certificate of Sponsorship on your behalf as they have to assign it to you via the online portal. They must first acquire a Sponsor License in order to do that.
How long are UK Expansion Workers permitted to reside in the United Kingdom?
The initial validity period of the permit is 12 months. However, it may be extended for another 12 months should there be a need for it. Note, that it can only be renewed once, and can only host an individual for a maximum of two years.
Can I include my family in my Global Business Mobility Visa application?
You may be allowed to bring along your partner and children as your “dependents” if they meet the eligibility requirements. Should their application get accepted, they’ll be granted temporary residency rights in the UK with the same validity period as your official Global Business Mobility visa permit.