UK Expansion Worker Visa 2023
A UK Expansion Worker visa 2023 allows you to come to the UK to set up a branch of an overseas business that has not started trading in the UK yet.
To obtain an expansion worker visa, you must be working for the overseas business either as a senior manager or specialist employee. If your business is already trading in the UK, you should apply for a Senior or Specialist Worker visa instead. 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. The expansion worker visa replaced sole representative of an overseas business visa.
UK Expansion Worker Visa Application Guide
In this guide, we will explain requirements, documents and cost to apply for UK expansion worker visa to setup a branch office in the UK.
In order to apply for a UK expansion worker visa, you will need to obtain expansion worker sponsor licence to do a specific job which meets certain requirements including salary and skills.
This expansion visa route does not lead to settlement in the UK.
However, you may be able to switch to a skilled worker visa from expansion visa.
Eligibility requirements for UK Expansion Worker Visa
In order to secure UK Expansion visa, you will need to satisfy the UK Home Office that:
- You are aged 18 or over
- You are currently working for a business that is link to the UK sponsor
- You have worked for your employer outside the UK for 12 months; OR
- earning more than £73,900 annually
- a Japanese citizen working for a Japanese company that is expanding to the UK
- You have a valid certificate of sponsorship issued by your UK sponsor
- You are planning to do a genuine job
- The job is at skilled level to at least RQF Level 6
- Your minimum salary will be equal to or exceed £45,800 per year and the going rate for the job
- You need to provide a TB test (if required)
- You have enough money to support yourself in the UK or your employer certified the maintenance in certificate of sponsorship
The exact requirements to obtain a UK expansion worker visa you will need to satisfy may vary depending on your circumstances.
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UK Expansion Worker Skill Level
To be eligible, applicants must be awarded 60 points (for their sponsorship, job skill level and salary).
You must score 20 points for a job at the appropriate skill level. To award these points, you must be sponsored in an occupation code listed as being eligible for the Global Business Mobility routes in Table 1 or Table 2 of Appendix Skilled Occupations, unless you are applying as a Service Supplier, in which case you have 2 ways to meet the points requirement.
If you do not meet the requirements of at least one of these options, you will score no points for job at an appropriate skill level and will be refused.
Salary at the required level
To apply for Expansion Worker Visa, you must be paid the salary that is at or above both:
- the general salary threshold of £45,800 for Senior or Specialist Workers and UK Expansion Workers or £24,220 for Graduate Trainees
- the going rate for Senior or Specialist Workers and UK Expansion Workers or 70% of the going rate for Graduate Trainees
The general threshold is the minimum salary which applies regardless of the applicant’s occupation code. This is £45,800 for Senior or Specialist Workers and UK Expansion Workers and £24,220 for Graduate Trainees. The general threshold is the same, regardless of how many hours a week the applicant is sponsored to work. It cannot be pro-rated for part-time work.
You will automatically meet the financial requirement when you are applying for permission to stay in the UK, having been in the UK for at least 12 months with valid visa on the date of application.
If the above does not apply, you can meet the financial requirement by either:
- your A-rated sponsor certifying they will, if necessary, maintain and accommodate the applicant up to the end of the first month of their employment, to an amount of at least £1,270 (this does not apply to UK Expansion Workers)
- providing evidence showing they have held funds of at least £1,270 for a 28day period as set out in the Financial requirement guidance – (this has reduced from the 90-day requirement which existed for Tier 2 applications)
Certificate of Sponsorship
The applicant must have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from an approved sponsor. This is a virtual document (similar to a database record) which is assigned by the sponsor. Sponsors use a secure IT system called the sponsorship management system (SMS) to assign a certificate of sponsorship. The reference number for the certificate should be provided in the application.
How long you can stay in the UK
You can stay in the UK with a UK Expansion Worker visa for whichever is shorter of:
- 12 months after the start date of the job on your certificate of sponsorship
- the time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days
If you want to stay longer in the UK, you can extend your visa by 12 months. The maximum time you can stay in the UK on a UK Expansion Worker visa is 2 years.
If you’ve spent time in the UK on this or another visa, you might not be able to stay on a UK Expansion Worker visa for as long. You can only stay in the UK for a maximum of 5 years in any 6 year period if you’ve spent time on any of these visas:
- Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa
- Intra-company Transfer visa
- Graduate Trainee visa (Global Business Mobility)
- Secondment Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)
- Senior or Specialist Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)
- Service Supplier visa (Global Business Mobility)
- UK Expansion Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)
How to apply
You must apply online. How you apply depends on whether you’re:
- outside the UK and are coming to the UK
- inside the UK and extending your current visa
- inside the UK and switching from a different visa
Your partner and children can apply to join you or stay in the UK as your ‘dependants’ if they’re eligible.
How long it takes
You can apply for a visa up to 3 months before the day you are due to start work in the UK. This date is listed on your certificate of sponsorship. As part of your application, you’ll need to prove your identity and provide your documents.
You may need to allow extra time if you need an appointment to do this. You’ll find out if you need one when you start your application.
How much it costs
When you apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa, you’ll need to have enough money to:
- pay the £259 application fee
- pay the healthcare surcharge – this is usually £624 per year
- support yourself when you arrive in the UK – you’ll usually need to have at least £1,270 available (unless you’re exempt)
You’ll be told how much you need to pay when you apply.
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