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Moving to the UK with the Expansion Worker Visa: A Comprehensive Guide

One of the five newly introduced pathways within the Global Business Mobility (GMB) visa framework, the UK Expansion Worker Visa represents an enhancement of previous options. Additionally, it incorporates fresh criteria aimed at bolstering trade and economic development in the UK post-Brexit.

In this article, we will provide comprehensive instructions on the UK Expansion Worker Visa application process.

What Is the UK Expansion Worker Visa?

The Global Business Mobility visa enables non-UK senior managers to work in the UK as UK Expansion Workers, occupying positions sponsored by their employers, as outlined in their sponsorship certificate. This Senior or Specialist Worker visa grants holders the opportunity to pursue studies and engage in volunteer activities in the UK.

Under this visa, individuals can establish a branch of an international company that has not yet commenced operations in the UK. To be eligible for this visa, applicants must hold senior management or specialist positions within a foreign company.

Additionally, if their partner and dependent children meet the requisite criteria, they are eligible to accompany the visa holder to the UK.

Benefits of UK Expansion Worker Visa

With a UK Expansion Worker visa, you have the privilege to:

  • Perform the job specified on your sponsorship study certificate for your sponsor
  • Bring your spouse and children along as your "dependents"
  • Participate in volunteer work
  • Travel to and from the UK

However, holding a UK Expansion Worker Visa does not entitle you to:

  • Apply for the State Pension or access other benefits like public funds
  • Change jobs unless you update your visa accordingly
  • Work simultaneously in another job
  • Apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK

Who Is Eligible for the Expansion Worker Visa?

To be eligible for an Expansion Worker visa, you need to fulfill the following criteria:

  • 1) Possess a valid certificate of sponsorship provided by your employer. This electronic document outlines details of your UK employment. You'll require the reference number from your CoS for your visa application. Once obtained, you have three months to apply for a UK expansion worker visa.
  • 2) Have been employed by your current employer outside the UK for at least one year. However, this requirement doesn't apply if your earnings exceed £73,900 annually or if you're a Japanese national employed by a Japanese business expanding into the UK.
  • 3) Your occupation must be among those listed as eligible for the Global Business Mobility visas.
  • 4) Earn a minimum salary of £42,400 (€48,339) per year or the prevailing rate for your position, whichever is higher.

UK Expansion Worker Visa Required Documents

The documents required to demonstrate your eligibility for the Expansion Worker Visa may include:

  • Your unique Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) reference number provided by your employer
  • Your current valid passport
  • Details outlining your job title and annual salary
  • The standard occupational code for your job
  • Information regarding your employer, including their name and sponsor license number
  • Bank statements displaying personal savings of at least £1,270 to support yourself upon arrival in the UK
  • Evidence confirming your relationship with your dependent partner and/or children (if applicable to your application), such as marriage or civil partnership certificate and birth certificate
  • Tuberculosis test results (if applicable, only for individuals from listed TB countries)

Additional documents may be required depending on your circumstances.

How to Apply for a UK Expansion Worker Visa?

To proceed with an Expansion Worker visa application, follow these steps:

  • 1. Obtain your Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer.
  • 2. Fill out and submit the online UK Expansion Worker Visa application form.
  • 3. Pay applicable application fees (details below).
  • 4. Confirm your identity by either attending a biometric appointment at the nearest visa application center (or UKVCAS) or by utilizing the 'UK Immigration: ID Check' mobile phone application. The available options will be provided during your application process.

How Long Does a UK Expansion Visa Last?

If granted a UK Expansion Worker visa, individuals will receive leave for whichever period is shorter: either 12 months from the job's start date as indicated on the sponsorship certificate or 14 days after the job's end date. Extension of the visa is possible, but limited to an additional 12 months. The maximum duration one can stay in the UK on a UK Expansion Worker visa is 2 years.

Furthermore, UK expansion workers are bound by the maximum cumulative period for all GBM routes. This means that if they've previously spent time in the UK on this or another visa, their stay on a UK Expansion Worker visa might be limited. An individual can stay in the UK for a maximum of 5 years within any 6 years if they've spent time on any other GMB visas, or as an Intra-company graduate trainee or intra-company transferee.

It's important to note that the UK Expansion Worker route does not lead to settlement in the UK. However, senior or specialist employees may be eligible to apply for leave to remain through a different immigration route that enables them to eventually obtain indefinite leave to remain, provided they meet the eligibility criteria of that specific route.

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