The Business Expansion visa allows established overseas businesses to send senior managers and specialist employees to the UK to set up a branch or subsidiary company there. The visa only lasts one year but can be extended for up to two years. After that, the UK company should have established a trading presence and can further employ the manager or specialist on the Skilled Worker route. The Expansion Worker visa itself is not a route to permanent residence in the UK.
First of all the UK company must obtain a Global Mobility Sponsorship Licence. It must show that:
The list of evidence for this sponsorship licence application is very long. The overseas company must provide extensive evidence of its operations using accounts, bank statements, advertising, annual reports and contracts. It must show it has the funds to invest in the UK company and that it genuinely intends to do so using a business plan and perhaps market research and recruitment research.
Once the company has the sponsorship licence, it can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to the person heading up the UK business. In fact, it is this person who will be the ‘Key Personnel’ for the sponsorship licence and will issue their own Certificate of Sponsorship.
Like other sponsored workers, the person coming to the UK must be an employee of the company and carry out a job that is an eligible occupation for migrant workers. The company must pay the worker above the minimum salary for that job.
This has not been a popular route yet. According to the Free Movement website earlier this year, ‘the lack of popularity is reflected in the number of applications by businesses applying for a licence to sponsor workers in the route. At the time of writing, of the 81,000 or so sponsor licence on the Register of Worker and Temporary Workers, there are 184 sponsors who hold a licence in the Expansion Worker route.’
It may be worth exploring other options to expand your business in the UK before trying the Business Expansion worker route. Please contact a member of our team if you have any questions about this.