What is the UK Expansion Worker Visa?
The UK Expansion Worker Visa is for senior and specialist employees from overseas companies who wish to expand the overseas business in the UK. This immigration pathway is a steppingstone to allow foreigners to migrate to the UK to set up a branch or subsidiary of the overseas business in the UK which will then allow them to switch to another visa that will lead to permanent residency. Applicants can apply to become UK permanent residents after living in the UK for 5 years with a qualifying visa that leads to settlement. After at least 1 year of holding permanent residency and living in the UK for at least 5 consecutive years, applicants can then obtain UK citizenship.
Permanent Residency: After 5 years
UK Citizenship: After 1 year of PR and 5 years continuous residency in the UK
- Enables a senior employee of an overseas company to move
to the UK and run a new branch or subsidiary
- One of the highest standards of living in the world and is a
member of the G-8 group of countries
- Diverse and multicultural society, represented by large
cultural and ethnic communities
- A high standard of education including state and private
schools, higher education institutions and universities
- One of the best free medical care services in the world
- Access to business opportunities throughout Europe
- London is unrivalled as a financial business centre
- The travel mobility and security of a UK passport
- Can include spouse/partner and children under 18 years
- Overseas business must establish a UK subsidiary company
- The UK business must obtain a Sponsorship Licence to be able to
sponsor the applicant
- The UK business must issue a certificate of sponsorship to the
- Within 3 months of issuing certificate of sponsorship, the applicant
must apply for the UK Expansion Worker visa
- Applicant must attend a Visa Application Centre for biometrics
- Visa will be issued for 1 year and may be extended for a further year
for a maximum of 2 years in total
- Once a UK trading presence is established, the applicant can switch
to a Skilled Worker visa
- Can apply for settlement after holding Skilled Worker visa for 5
To qualify for the UK Expansion Worker Visa the applicant must:
- Currently work for an overseas employer that has been
active and trading for at least 3 years
- The overseas company must establish a new UK branch or
company as a subsidiary of the overseas business
- Have worked for the employer outside the UK for at least 12
months prior to date of application (some exceptions apply)
- Have a valid certificate of sponsorship from the employer
- Perform a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
- Be sponsored to undertake a genuine job in the UK
- Be paid the minimum eligible salary required for the job or
at least £42,400 (whichever is higher)
- Have sufficient funds – at least £1,270 available held for at
least 28 consecutive days before the date of application
UK Permanent Residency
- Can apply to become UK permanent residents after living in the UK
for 5 years with a qualifying visa that leads to settlement
- Must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12-
- Must demonstrate a knowledge of the English language and life in
- Must have lived for at least 5 years continuously in the UK
- Must have held Permanent Residence (ILR) for at least 1 year
- Must not have spent more than a total of 450 days outside the UK
during the 5 years of living in the UK
- Not be ineligible for citizenship under the UK Immigration Rules.
FAQ – UK EXPANSION WORKER VISA PROGRAM
To qualify for the UK Expansion Worker Visa, the Applicant must meet eligibility requirements which include:
• Have a valid certificate of sponsorship from the Applicant’s employing UK Company
• The Applicant must have worked for the parent company outside the UK for at least 12 months (there
• Have a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
• Be sponsored to undertake a genuine job in the UK
• Be paid the minimum eligible salary required for the job or at least £42,400 (whichever is higher)
• Have sufficient funds (at least £1,270 for the Main Applicant plus £285 for a dependent partner, £315
for a first child and £200 for each additional child) held for at least 28 consecutive days
• Pay the Health Surcharge Fee (GBP 624 per person)
• Not be ineligible under the ‘general grounds for refusal’
• The Applicant must provide a Criminal Record Certificate confirming they have no criminal convictions
issued within the last six months; and
• Provide a ‘clear’ tuberculosis test result.
The UK Expansion Worker Visa is valid for either 1 year after the start date of the job detailed in the Certificate of Sponsorship or the time given on the Certificate of Sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter.
The overseas business must not be trading in the UK but instead they must have a UK registered company as either an overseas branch or a subsidiary of the overseas linked business. The overseas business must also be active and trading overseas for a minimum of 3 years.
The Applicant must have worked for the overseas business for at least 12 months prior to the date of the application unless the Applicant’s gross annual is more than £73,900 or if the Applicant is a Japanese National seeking to establish a UK branch or subsidiary of the linked business or organisation under the UK Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.
The Applicant must do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations, undertake a genuine job in the UK and be paid the minimum eligible salary required for the job or at least £42,400 (whichever is higher).
The Applicant will be able to extend the visa for a further 12 months only. Note that if the Applicant has already spent time in the UK on any of the Global Mobility Routes or the former Intra-company routes then the Applicant may not be able to stay in the UK on the UK Expansion Worker Visa for the full time period set out above.
No, the visa only allows the Applicant to live and work in the UK.
Yes, the spouse (or partner who you have lived with for at least 2 years) and children who are under 18 years old (including adopted children) that are financially dependent on the Applicant may be included. Dependents are free to work or study in the UK.
No, however, after the UK Expansion Worker Visa holder establishes a trading presence in the UK, the applicant may become eligible to switch to a visa that leads to settlement such as the Skilled Worker visa.
Once the applicant has switched to a visa that leads to settlement, they may become eligible to apply for permanent residence after 5 years of residence in the UK.
The Applicant will become eligible to apply for British citizenship after having lived in the UK for at least 5 years AND having held permanent residence for at least 1 year, subject to meeting residency, language and other requirements.
Yes, there is no restriction on dual (or multiple) citizenship.
The present document is intended for guidance and general information only and does not constitute or purport to provide you with legal advice. Such information is subject to changes without notice. Each case is unique and depends on the facts and circumstances of the individual and due consideration should be taken if applying the general information to your personal situation. For an evaluation of your personal circumstances one of our legal team would be happy to assist.