If you are representing a business based overseas and planning to set up its first UK branch, you cannot now apply for a UK Sole Representative visa. Still, you can apply for a new scheme called a UK Expansion Worker Visa (Global Mobility) visa instead.
A UK Expansion Worker visa will allow you to come to the UK and open a branch of an overseas business that has not started working in the United Kingdom yet.
You have to already work for the overseas business as a senior manager or specialist employee.
In this case, if your business is already trading in the UK, you may apply for a Senior or Specialist Worker visa.
The main requirements of a UK Expansion Worker visa
You will have to demonstrate that you:
- obtained a valid certificate of sponsorship from your sponsor/employer;
- have worked for your employer outside the United Kingdom;
- occupy a job that is on the Home Office’s list of eligible occupations;
- must be paid the minimum eligible salary required for your role.
If your sponsor is not currently approved to employ people to work in the UK, they can apply for a sponsor licence.
You would satisfy the visa requirements if you had to be employed by your employer outside of the UK for twelve months as a minimum. The exemptions to this rule are that you:
- were earning more than £73,900;
- are a Japanese national doing work for a Japanese company that is expanding to the UK.
You must receive a salary of at least £42,400 per year or the ‘going rate’ for your role – whichever is higher.
You can stay in the UK as a UK Expansion Worker for whichever is shorter of:
- twelve months after the start date of the job on your certificate of sponsorship, or;
- the period on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days.
You may extend your visa by 12 months if you wish to continue your stay in the UK. Therefore, the maximum time you can stay in the UK on a UK Expansion Worker visa is two years. The overall limit on the time allowed in this route, even if not continuous: is five years in any six years. If the worker wants to stay in the UK, they would need to switch to another route, for example, Skilled Worker.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to get Indefinite Leave to remain in the UK as an Expansion Worker.
How to apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa?
To apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa, you will need to have enough money to:
- pay your application fee
- pay the healthcare surcharge
- support yourself when you enter the UK – (unless you’re exempt)
You need to hold at least £1,270 in your bank account to demonstrate you can support yourself when you come to the UK.
You will need to have had this amount available for at least 28 consecutive days. The last date of 28 days must be within 31 days of the date you apply.
The applicant’s partner and children may apply to join them in the UK as their ‘dependants’.
There is an option to extend a UK Expansion Worker visa.
The applicant’s partner and children will need to apply separately to update their leave to remain.
There is a possibility to apply to change (‘switch’) to a UK Expansion Worker visa if the applicant is already in the UK on a different type of visa.
Who cannot apply to switch
You cannot apply to switch to this type of visa if you are currently in the United Kingdom:
- on a visit visa;
- on a short-term student visa;
- on a UK domestic worker on a private household visa;
- on a UK Parent of a Child Student visa;
- on a UK seasonal worker visa;
- on immigration bail;
- because you received leave to remain outside the UK immigration rules.