Recently, the British government introduced a UK Expansion Worker visa that replaced a UK Representative of an Overseas Business visa. Now, to open a UK subsidiary and relocate to the UK, you need to apply for this new visa category. The immigration route is one of five sponsored routes under the Global Business Mobility scheme. Though it does not lead to settlement, it still allows you to switch to another visa category and obtain an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the future.
With a UK Expansion Worker visa, a company can send its senior managers to the UK to set up, run, and develop a UK subsidiary and then, if required, its branches. One company can issue up to five certificates of sponsorship for a UK Expansion Worker visa. The employees on this visa will be responsible for setting up a subsidiary in the UK, hiring staff, ensuring communication between various departments for efficient market performance, establishing contacts with partners and suppliers, and attracting customers.
Two years are considered enough to establish and properly develop all the business processes. After the UK Expansion visa expires, you need to either switch to another visa category or leave the UK.
The first step is to register a UK subsidiary in compliance with all the requirements.
The subsidiary then applies for a sponsorship licence. Once it becomes a sponsor, it can issue certificates of sponsorship.
With a certificate of sponsorship in hand, your employee can apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa, relocate to the UK, and run the opened UK subsidiary.
To get a UK Expansion Worker visa, the following requirements must be met:
If you already have an operating subsidiary in the UK and need to employ some foreign specialists, you cannot use a UK Expansion Worker visa route; your application will be refused. Instead, your potential employees can apply for UK Senior or Specialist Worker or Secondment Worker visas. For more details, see the corresponding articles.
If the chosen employee is granted a UK Expansion Worker visa, they need to apply to the Home Office to change the company’s sponsor rating from a temporary B-rating to a full A-rating. Once this is done, the company will be able to issue another four certificates of sponsorship for foreign employees to come to the UK on a UK Expansion Worker visa.
The sponsorship licence is valid for four years. However, a UK Expansion Worker visa is initially issued for 12 months and then can be extended for another 12 months. Therefore, it covers only two years of stay in the UK. If after two years the company still needs foreign workers in the UK, it needs to expand the sponsorship licence so that the employees could switch from a UK Expansion Worker visa to a UK Skilled Worker visa. This visa leads to an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after five years of stay in the country.
After five years of stay in the UK on a UK Skilled Worker visa, you will be able to apply for an ILR. A year later, if you meet all the requirements, you can become a British citizen.
The Home Office ensures that the position you would like to employ a foreign specialist for meets the following requirements:
If an applicant did not have any other UK visas in the last six years, the maximum stay on a UK Expansion Worker visa will be limited to two years. Initially, it will be given for 12 months with an opportunity to extend it for another 12 months.
When you switch between visa categories because your circumstances change, you need to remember that you cannot stay in the UK for more than five years in six years. It means that if you have already spent four years in the country on a UK visa, you will be able to use your UK Expansion Worker visa only for 12 months and will not be able to extend it.
When you open a subsidiary, it is initially classified as a small-size enterprise, so the application fee will be £536. It will be processed within eight weeks. You can pay an extra £500 for Priority Service. In this case, you will get a decision in ten working days.
You will also have to pay £199 for a certificate of sponsorship.
A UK Expansion Worker visa fee is £259. If a sponsored specialist adds family members to their application, the sum increases with the number of dependants. The costs also include a health surcharge of £624 for each adult and £470 for each minor child multiplied by the number of years the visa will be valid.
Though a UK Expansion Worker visa has many restrictions, you can still have a normal life and improve your professional skills. Apart from working, a visa holder can do training and attend charity events, be a volunteer and travel in and outside the UK. They can also add dependants to their application: spouses, partners and minor children.
However, if you want to change your job, you will have to switch to another visa category, for example, a UK Skilled Worker visa. The same applies to a side hustle. It is not allowed on a UK Expansion Worker visa.
A UK Expansion Worker visa is issued for two years and does not lead to settlement. Before it expires, you can either switch to another visa category or leave the UK. Your employer can offer you to obtain a UK Skilled Worker visa or a UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa instead. You will continue working for the company until you get ILR or until your stay in the country does not exceed nine years in the last ten consecutive years. If you plan to relocate to the UK for good, you may need to consult an immigration advisor on further steps to undertake.
You should keep in mind that you will not be able to apply for social benefits without UK citizenship.
The list of documents you need to collect to get a UK Expansion Worker visa for your employee is available on the UK government website. However, each application will be processed on its own merits and often requires additional evidence. If your application is missing evidence, you will get a visa refusal that will cost your business time and money. But if you contact Imperial & Legal advisors, you will get all the assistance you need and avoid any losses. Our experts will review your case, prepare the list of the required documents based on your business model and help you prepare and submit an application. Thanks to Imperial & Legal, you will save time and money while setting up your business in the UK.
With a UK Expansion Worker visa, you can set up a UK subsidiary and send your employees to the UK to develop it.
Up to five employees can come to the UK on this visa to run and grow the newly opened subsidiary.
A UK Expansion Worker visa will be issued for two years which is considered enough to establish and properly develop all the business processes. After the UK Expansion visa expires, you need to either switch to another visa or leave the UK.
The Home Office ensures that the job you would like a foreign specialist to take meets the following requirements:
With a UK Expansion Worker visa, you can do the following:
On a UK Expansion Worker visa, you cannot do the following:
We will offer a tailored solution to you and your family based on your circumstances. Contact us today for your personalised solution.
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