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UK Expansion Worker Visa

The Expansion Worker visa is one of the Global Business Mobility immigration strategies available to employ overseas workers.

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The Expansion Worker visa is intended for workers who need to enter the UK to set up a branch of an overseas business that has not started trading in the UK yet.  

Before starting a visa application, however, it is important to assess the eligibility and understand the application requirements, to avoid issues or delays with the application. 

UK Expansion Worker visa requirements

Who is eligible for UK Expansion Worker visa? 

To qualify for this visa type, the candidate must:   

  • Receive a valid “Certificate of Sponsorship” (CoS) by their employer, that has been approved by the Home Office (i.e. holding a “sponsorship license”); 
  • Have worked for the overseas business (outside the UK) as either a senior manager or a specialist employee;  
  • Have a role that is on the list of eligible occupations
  • Be paid a minimum salary level. 

If the requirements are not met, candidates can check if they are eligible for other UK visa types.  

What occupations are under Expansion Worker visa in the UK?

To make sure your occupation is eligible under the Expansion Worker visa, you may check the table of eligible jobs  published by the Home Office.   

It is a very large table sorted in order of occupation code (“SOC Code”).  

What is the minimum salary for Expansion workers in the UK?

The minimum salary depends on the type of work the candidate will be doing. In any case, the minimum salary is whichever is the highest out of the 2 following conditions:   

  • £45,800 per year; 
  • The “going rate” for the job. 

It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that the job pays at least the minimum wage. To know which is the going rate for the specific role, the employer must first identify the role’s occupation code and, then, the corresponding annual going rate.

If the employer fails to meet the minimum requirements in this sense, the visa application will be refused.   

Apply for Expansion Worker visa

Once you have assessed that you meet all the requirements specific to your case, you can start your visa application.

How to apply for a UK Expansion visa? 

If you are resident overseas, you will have to apply online by registering on the relevant Home Office website and complete the application. Alternatively, you can decide to avail of the support of an immigration advisor, who will usually complete the application for you and guide you on the next steps.   

To complete your application, you will also need to prove your identity either by using the “UK Immigration: ID Check” app or by provide your biometrics attending a visa application center (VAC). 

You can usually select the VAC that is closer to your residency address, and you will have to register your fingerprints and facial photograph there.  

What are the documents required for Expansion Worker visa?

During the visa application process, you will be required to provide:   

  • Your CoS number
  • Your valid passport;   
  • Your job title and yearly salary
  • Your job SOC;  
  • The name of your employer and their sponsor license number;  
  • Evidence that you have worked for your employer outside the UK

Depending on the specific case, applicants may also be asked to provide:   

  • Evidence that they have enough personal savings to support themselves in the UK; 
  • Proof of family relationships for dependent family members;   
  • A tuberculosis test result; 
  • Other documents depending on your circumstances. 

How to prove that you have worked for your employer outside the UK?

After submitting the application, applicants might be asked to prove that they have worked for their overseas employer for at least 12 months.  

Documents which can be used as a proof of the previous work experience include:  

  • Printed pay-slips or online pay-slips supported by a letter from the sponsor signed by a senior staff member;  
  • Bank or building society statements or similar documents; 
  • Relevant letters by the overseas employer.  

You may be exempted from showing evidence of your previous work experience if you fall into one of the following categories:  

  • You earn over £73,900
  • You are a Japanese national working for a Japanese company that is expanding to the UK; 
  • You are a national or permanent resident of Australia working for an Australian company that is expanding to the UK.

What is the minimum balance for Expansion visa? 

When it comes to show savings, candidates must usually have at least £1,270 on their bank account to prove they can support themselves in the UK. The money must be available for at least 28 days in a row.   

In case a partner and children relocate with the Expansion Worker, additional amounts must be available, that are:    

  • £285 for the partner
  • £315 for one child
  • £200 for each additional child

Alternatively, the employer can declare to cover the candidate and the family costs during their first month in the UK on the CoS. In this case, the applicant does not need to prove financial resources personally.  

How long does it take to get Expansion Worker visa?

You can apply for the visa  within 3 months of getting your CoS and the standard processing time for an Expansion Worker visa application – after the CoS is granted – is 3 weeks.   

The UKVI starts processing applications only after candidates have proved their identity, either using the UK Immigration: ID Check app or attending the appointment at the visa center. Once the application is approved, they send a decision by letter or email.   

In certain cases, the processing time can be longer, for instance if the information provided on the application is not accurate or the supporting documentation must be verified.   

It is also possible to apply for a faster decision purchasing the government “priority service” (if available at the time of the application). In this case you will have to pay £500 in addition to the application fee, to get a reply in 5 working days

UK Expansion Worker visa cost

Government application fees for an Expansion Worker visa correspond to:   

  • £298 for the application fee;   
  • £1,035 per year for the healthcare surcharge.  

On top of that, candidates must show to have a minimum balance as mentioned, unless their employer declares to cover for them.   

Government fees may be updated every year or from time to time, according to the cost of living index. 

Can I bring my spouse to the UK on an Expansion Worker visa?

Partners and children can apply for family visas as dependents of the main applicant.

Under the UK immigration rules, are considered dependent:   

  • The husband or wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
  • The child under 18 or over 18 if they are already in the UK as dependent of the main applicant. 

In the absence of a civil partnership or marriage officially recognized in the UK, you will have to prove that you have been living together in a domestic relationship for a minimum of 2 years prior to the visa application. 

UK Expansion Worker visa duration

What is the Global Mobility route in the UK?

The Expansion Worker visa (Global Business Mobility route) is a temporary immigration strategy. In fact, it allows to stay in the UK for 12 months after the start date indicated on the CoS or – if shorter – the time indicated on your CoS plus additional 14 days.  

How to extend the Expansion Worker visa?

If you need to stay longer in the UK, you can request a visa extension for another 12 months, so as to reach the maximum time allowed on a UK Expansion Worker visa – which is 2 years.  

However, if you had already spent time in the UK on a previous Expansion visa or on another visa type, you may not be able to stay in the UK with the current Expansion visa for the maximum time allowed.  

In details, you can only stay in the UK for a maximum of 5 years in any 6 years period if you have already spent time on certain visa types such as:  

Can I switch to an Expansion Worker visa?

If you are already in the UK on another visa type, you might be able to submit an application to switch your current visa type into a UK Expansion Worker visa. However, usually you cannot travel out of the UK until you get a decision on your application.  

There are some instances where you cannot apply to switch, though. These include the case where you are in the UK on a Visitor Visa. To apply for an Expansion Worker visa in this case, you must leave the country and apply from abroad.   


Regulatory Framework

Home Office – UK Visas and Immigration


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