We use cookies on this site to ensure the most desirable user experience. By continuing to browse this website you are giving implied consent. Find out more.

UK Expansion Worker Visa: Ample Opportunities for Relocation and Business Development

The British immigration rules are constantly being updated. When the Home Office cancels one immigration route, it replaces it with usually a better option. This happened to a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa.

A UK Sole Representative visa allowed overseas businesses to send their top managers to the United Kingdom so that they could set up a UK subsidiary here. The major disadvantage, however, was that only one specialist could relocate to the UK and had to take all the responsibilities for running the subsidiary.

Recently, the Home Office introduced the Global Business Mobility scheme that encompasses several business immigration routes, including a UK Expansion Worker visa that replaced a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa.

Who Can Apply For UK Expansion Worker Visa?

A UK Expansion Worker visa is designed for top managers and specialist workers of overseas businesses who come to the UK to set up a UK subsidiary here. Visa holders are expected to run and actively develop the newly established subsidiary during their stay in the country.

If you plan to work for an existing subsidiary, you will have to apply for another visa – a UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa, or even better – a UK Skilled Worker visa.

Main Advantages of UK Expansion Worker Visa

A UK Expansion Worker visa serves the same purpose as the UK Sole Representative visa. However, unlike the cancelled immigration route, the former allows you to send several employees to the UK which significantly increases your chances of success.

What can a visa holder do on a UK Expansion Worker visa?

  1. Work for their sponsor in a position indicated in their certificate of sponsorship;
  2. Take up an education course;
  3. Be a volunteer;
  4. Travel inside and outside the UK;
  5. Add their dependants to their visa application: spouse, partners, and children.

What Are Requirements For UK Expansion Worker Visa?

Certificate of Sponsorship

You cannot apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa without a certificate of sponsorship issued by a registered UK sponsor. In other words, a newly set-up UK subsidiary must:

  1. Get a sponsorship licence;
  2. Issue a certificate of sponsorship in the form of an electronic entry made in the sponsorship management system. An applicant is provided with the number of their certificate of sponsorship. This number must be included in their visa application.

After receiving your certificate of sponsorship, you can apply for your UK Expansion Worker visa and relocate to the UK within three months.

Work Experience In Overseas Business

To get a UK Expansion Worker visa, you must demonstrate that you have worked for an overseas business for at least 12 months in the same position that you are going to occupy in the UK. There are only two exceptions:

  1. Foreign specialist workers who will earn more than £73,900 per year;
  2. Japanese citizens who plan to set up a UK subsidiary of a Japan-registered company.

Eligible Occupation

To address labour market shortages and attract required specialists, the UK authorities publish lists of shortage occupations for each immigration route.

You can have a look at the list of eligible occupations for the Global Business Mobility scheme on the government website. Each occupation has a unique code. Your employer can give it to you or you can find it in your certificate of sponsorship.


The British government ensures that a visa holder gets enough money to support themselves in the UK. To get a UK Expansion Worker visa, your sponsor must guarantee that you will earn at least £45,800 per year (gross) or at the going rate for your occupation.

The highest salary rate must be chosen. To find out the going rate for your occupation, visit the government website and use the code of your occupation.

General Requirements

Applicants for a UK Expansion Worker visa must meet the same general requirements as applicants for other immigration routes. The Home Office will approve your application only if you are older than 18, have a clean criminal record, have enough money to support yourself in the UK, and have no dangerous infectious diseases. 

How To Apply For UK Expansion Worker Visa?

In most cases, you can apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa remotely by filling in an electronic application form on the government website.

The application procedure will depend on your circumstances:

  • You apply outside the UK to get permission to enter the country;
  • You apply inside the UK to extend your visa or switch from another category.

Let’s have a look at how to apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa outside the UK:

  1. Fill in an electronic application form on the government website;
  2. Pay an application fee. Remember that it will not be returned if you change your mind, or your application is refused. That’s why, it is important to consider getting professional support;
  3. Attach a cover letter to your application;
  4. Submit your biometrics for a UK residence card. Depending on the country you are in and your circumstances, you either need to visit a visa centre or use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ online application;
  5. Receive the Home Office decision per email. If your application is approved, you will also get detailed guidance as to what you need to do next. In most cases, you will get a short-term visa to enter the country where, upon arrival, you will collect your biometric residence card.

Can Applicants For UK Expansion Worker Visa Add Dependants To Their Application?

Your spouse or partner, and children can relocate to the UK with you. However, they will have to submit a separate application.

Your family members will get their applications approved only if they are dependent on you. Even your children older than 18 can relocate with you if:

  • They are dependent on you;
  • They are already in the UK, for example, as students;
  • They are not married and do not have children.

How Long Does It Take To Get UK Expansion Worker Visa?

Imperial & Legal’s advisors recommend starting to apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa at least three months before relocation to the UK.

You will need time to obtain a certificate of sponsorship, collect the required documents, and get the Home Office’s decision. As a rule, it takes three weeks for the application to be processed if you apply outside the UK and eight weeks – if you apply inside the UK.

If you need to get your visa quicker, you can pay extra for the fast-track service. In this case, your application can be processed within five days and sometimes within a day.

How Much Does UK Expansion Worker Visa Cost?

Any applicant for a UK Expansion Worker visa must pay an application fee and an immigration health surcharge.

CostAmount (£)
Application fee259
Immigration health surcharge624 per year
SavingsAt least 1,270

You must also be able to support yourself till you get your first salary. The required sum of money must be kept in your account in a foreign or British bank for at least 28 days prior to the application.

If you relocate to the UK with your family, you will have to pay a health surcharge for all your dependants and show more savings to support all of you in the UK.

How Long Is UK Expansion Worker Visa Valid For?

If you apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa for the first time, it will be issued for up to 12 months. You will be able to extend the visa for another 12 months unless your overall stay in the UK exceeds two years. If your sponsor wants to keep you longer, you will have to switch to a UK Skilled Worker visa.


Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) and UK Citizenship

A UK Expansion Worker visa offers a lot of benefits to ambitious entrepreneurs. However, it has one significant disadvantage. The Global Business Mobility scheme does not lead to ILR and UK citizenship.

The whole time you spend in the UK on a UK Expansion Worker visa will not be counted towards the time required for ILR or British citizenship. If you want to relocate to the UK for good, you will have to switch to another visa.

How To Get UK Expansion Worker Visa Quickly And Without Any Unnecessary Expenses?

A lot of people think that it is difficult to get a UK long-term visa. However, the British government does not impose any unfulfillable requirements. If your occupation is from the shortage occupation list, you will be able to get your visa quite easily. With a UK Expansion Worker visa, the procedure will be even quicker since you will already have an employer. Your chances to get visa approval will multiply if you contact Imperial & Legal’s advisors for assistance.

FAQ About UK Expansion Worker Visa

What are the limitations on a UK Expansion Worker visa?

You are limited to where you can work. To get a UK Expansion Worker visa in the first place, you need to obtain a certificate of sponsorship from a UK sponsor. Your certificate of sponsorship will determine your position in the company. To change employer or job, you will have to re-apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa or switch to another immigration category.

UK Expansion Worker visa holders cannot:

  • Have a second job;
  • Get public benefits or pension in the UK;
  • Settle in the UK after several years of stay in the country.

What documents do I need to apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa?

Apart from the application, you must submit the following documents:

  • A valid passport with a blank page for the visa;
  • Your certificate of sponsorship;
  • Information about your sponsor: company name and sponsorship licence ID;
  • Information about your job in the UK: position, occupation title and its code, and your salary;
  • Documented evidence of sufficient work experience in the same position at the overseas headquarters;
  • Proof that you have enough money to support yourself;
  • Proof that your relationship with your dependants is genuine;
  • Negative tuberculosis test results for citizens of certain countries.

When can I extend my UK Expansion Worker visa?

You can apply for an extension if you meet the following requirements:

  1. You have not changed jobs since you relocated to the UK;
  2. Your current position has the same occupation code as the one that you occupied while applying for the visa;
  3. You continue to work for your sponsor;
  4. You have not exceeded the maximum stay in the UK.

What is a point-based system and what are the requirements for a UK Expansion Worker visa?

To get visa approval, applicants must meet some basic requirements (age, clean criminal records, good health, etc.) as well as qualification requirements that vary depending on the immigration route.

A point-based system is designed to make the Home Office’s work easier and to assess each applicant objectively.

A UK Expansion Worker visa requires 60 points. A certificate of sponsorship will score you 20 points automatically. The remaining 40 points can be granted for the following:

  • Eligible occupation – 20 points;
  • Salary requirements – 20 points.

What are the limitations for foreign nations who have already been living in the UK and decided to switch to a UK Expansion Worker visa?

Applicants who have been living in the UK and decided to switch to the UK Expansion Worker visa immigration route must meet all visa requirements to start with. They must have enough experience working for an overseas business in the same position and a relevant salary. Your sponsor must be a newly established UK subsidiary. And other requirements we mentioned above.

You will not be able to switch to a UK Expansion Worker visa from the following visas:

  1. UK Standard Visitor visa;
  2. UK Short-time Study visa;
  3. UK Parent of a Child Student visa;
  4. UK Overseas Domestic Worker visa. Or if;
  5. You try to switch visas illegally or you have breached an immigration rule and been released on an immigration bail;
  6. You are staying in the UK illegally as a refugee.

If you have dependants, their immigration category will not change automatically with yours. They will have to apply for this separately.

Tired of getting general advice?

We will work with you to find a customised solution for your immigration, second citizenship, business, tax and other needs.