UK Business Expansion: A Route to Settlement and British Citizenship For You and Your Family
Branch Austin McCormick are specialists in UK Expansion Worker visa applications. We have acted for high profile foreign entities under the predecessor visa, the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa. This route is viable for both entrepreneurs and company owners that wish to expand their existing business and who may not wish to apply under the UK Start-Up or Innovator visa routes which require an innovative, viable and scalable business idea. It permits an applicant to continue the same business in the UK and provides a flexible route to settlement for the applicant and their family.
The UK Expansion Worker visa is one limb under the new Global Business Mobility visa routes. The introduction of this route is designed to facilitate economic growth in the post-Brexit era and gives access to the UK market for businesses looking to grow by setting up their first UK branch or subsidiary.
Overseas entities can deploy up to five senior or specialist members of staff to set up a UK-based operation under the Global Mobility routes, by applying for the Expansion Worker visa.
This visa allows up to five members of staff to enter the UK and commence operations, including opening the company account and completing the necessary groundwork to start trading. The business will have to evidence an existing UK ‘footprint’ and normally will have already incorporated an entity on Companies House. As a full-service firm, we can assist with this aspect internally within our corporate department to ensure you receive holistic advice on your application. The business must not have started trading.
As mentioned, this route has superseded the previous unsponsored route namely, the Representative of an Overseas Business Route which prevented majority owners and sole proprietors from applying, whereas the UK Expansion visa provides this flexibility. Please note, applicants already on the Sole Representative visa can remain on this route, extend and settle and are not required to switch to the UK Expansion Worker Visa.
Can I apply with my family?
An Expansion Worker can apply with their family members, including their partner and dependent children provided they meet the relevant requirements. The visa is initially valid for 12 months, with the ability to extend for a further 12 months.
The limit any one person can spend in the UK as an expansion worker is two years.
Once your entity has established its UK presence, and within that two-year period, you are then able to add other tiers to your (Expansion worker) licence to continue sponsoring either yourself and/or other members of the team.
UK Expansion Worker Requirements
The employing entity must be a branch or wholly owned subsidiary of an overseas business. Importantly, the UK Expansion Worker route can only be used if the business has not commenced trading in the UK.
If an overseas employer intends on sending a senior or specialist employee to the UK on a temporary basis in a business that is already trading, they should instead consider applying for a Senior or Specialist Worker visa, or a Skilled Worker visa. It is important to note that the UK employer would need to be licensed to sponsor under these alternative routes, and on which we regularly advise.
When sponsoring a UK Expansion Worker, the sponsor must hold a valid licence under this category and ensure that the offer of employment meets or surmounts the relevant skill and salary requirements. At this point a sponsor may issue a valid CoS.
When applying for a licence to sponsor individuals on the UK Expansion Worker route, the sponsor must provide, amongst other supporting evidence, evidence as to a UK ‘footprint’. A footprint can be demonstrated by evidence of UK business premises or registration at Companies House. An entity must also provide evidence as to their overseas trading presence and a credible plan to expand into the UK along with significant investment funds. To meet this requirement, the sponsor will usually need to demonstrate that the business has been trading for at least 3 years and intends on establishing a presence in the UK within 2 years following the acquisition of the licence.
UK Expansion Worker Visa – Eligibility
The Expansion Worker visa is a points-based system visa and therefore an applicant must be awarded a total of 60 points under the following three criteria: sponsorship, skill, and salary.
Valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) (20 points)
- An applicant must have a valid CoS assigned by a licenced sponsor and be sponsored for a genuine role to meet the relevant requirements.
Skill and Salary Level (20 points each)
- The applicant must have sponsorship for an eligible role at or above the appropriate minimum skill level. The job role must be on the eligible list of occupations to qualify.
- The applicant must be renumerated a minimum of £42,400 or the ‘going rate’ for that job, whichever is higher.
Further, applicants must:
- Be at least 18 to qualify for the UK Expansion Worker visa.
- Also be working for a linked overseas business at the date of application and, unless they fall within one of the exceptions, have worked for the business for a minimum duration of 12 months. Exceptions to this rule include high earners i.e. those earning over £73,900, or Japanese nationals doing work for a Japanese company expanding to the UK.
- Have an existing UK sponsor, unlike the predecessor Sole Representative visa.
- Provide a valid TB Certificate if they are from or have spent a relevant period of time in a listed country.
- Meet the financial requirement, but only where they are applying for entry clearance or have been in the UK for less than 12 months. The financial requirement is met by showing proof of funds of £1,270, held for at least 28 days consecutively.
What is the application process for a UK Expansion Worker visa?
To apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa, the applicant will need to complete an online application with their CoS reference number. They can apply up to 3 months before the day they are due to commence work in the UK, as per their sponsorship certificate.
Along with a duly completed application form and relevant CoS reference, an applicant will need to prove their identity and provide additional supporting documentary evidence. Applicants will be required to attend an appointment to provide their biometric information.
Mandatory documentary evidence may include:
- A valid CoS from a UK licenced sponsor
- A valid passport or travel document showing their identity and nationality
- Evidence that the applicant has worker for the employer outside of the UK for at least 12 months
- Proof of funds, where relevant
- A valid TB test certificate, from a listed country.
Once an applicant has submitted their application, paid the relevant fee and enrolled their biometric information they should expect a decision within three weeks. If applying from outside of the UK and 8 weeks if they are applying from within the UK.
Branch Austin McCormick UK Business Expansion Services
We are corporate immigration specialists who can support your organisation’s intention to expand into the UK. We offer reasonable fixed fees to help your business plan the next phase of its growth, and provide holistic advice on the best next steps. For further information on the issues raised, please contact Charlotte Catto at firstname.lastname@example.org or another member of our immigration team.