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The UK Expansion Worker visa

As of 11 April 2022, the Global Business Mobility (GBM) routes have now replaced the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) routes. Under the GBM routes, there are five main categories:

  1. Senior or Specialist Worker route, replacing the Intra-Company Transfer route
  2. Graduate Trainee route, replacing the ICT Graduate Trainee route
  3. Service Supplier, replacing the provisions for contractual service suppliers and independent professionals within the Temporary Work – International Agreement route
  4. Secondment Worker route, for overseas workers being seconded to the UK as a part of a high value contract/investment by their overseas employer
  5. UK Expansion Worker route, for senior managers/specialist employees of overseas businesses who are coming to the UK to set up a branch. If the overseas business is already trading in the UK, the worker should instead apply for a Senior or Specialist Worker visa.

Existing ICT workers are eligible to apply for extensions and changes of employment under the Senior or Specialist Worker and Graduate Trainee routes, and dependant family members of workers on ICT routes can apply to join them under the provisions of the Senior or Specialist Worker and Graduate Trainee routes.

None of the five categories provide a path to settlement in the UK, and leave granted under these routes cannot be combined with leave granted under another Points-Based System (PBS) route to count towards a qualifying period of stay for settlement.

The UK Expansion Worker route replaces the provisions for Sole Representatives in the Representative of an Overseas Business route, however workers already in the UK with permission on the Representative of an Overseas Business route are not expected to switch to the UK Expansion Worker route.

A senior manager or specialist worker applying for a UK Expansion Worker visa must evidence the below with their application.

UK ‘footprint’

The applicant must provide evidence that their overseas business has established a UK ‘footprint’ (registered with Companies House or purchased/leased business premises in the UK) if:

  • The applicant’s overseas business is listed on the London Stock Exchange;
  • An international stock exchange that the Financial Conduct Authority considers to have an equivalent level of regulation to UK markets; or
  • Its expansion to the UK is supported by the Department for International Trade/Department for Business/Energy and Industrial Strategy/another government department.

Overseas trading presence

The applicant must evidence that their overseas business has been continuously trading overseas for at least 12 months immediately preceding the date of application in addition to providing evidence of their business trading overseas three years prior to the date of their application.

Japanese businesses are exempt from the requirement to show a trading presence three years prior to applying, however if this is not provided, the business will be limited to sponsoring one employee at a time in the UK.

The UK Expansion Worker route replaces the provisions for Sole Representatives in the Representative of an Overseas Business route

Planned expansion to the UK

The applicant must evidence their overseas business’ UK expansion plans in the form of a business summary or business plan, market research, etc. and show the capability of the business to fund the planned expansion to the UK. Specifically, that the business has the requisite funds to cover the initial costs in the first 12 months of UK trading, as projected in the business expansion plan.

There are various documents which must be provided in support of a UK Expansion Worker’s visa application, with little room for error or omission. We have yet to see how flexible or inflexible the Home Office is when considering UK Expansion Worker applications, but as ever with all types of UK visa applications, the safest approach is to always provide more documents and information than less.

The incorporation of the Global Business Mobility routes is one fragment of the UK government’s wider ‘Plan for Growth,’ which also includes the upcoming introduction of the High Potential Individual visa route for ‘top global’ university graduates to work and eventually settle in the UK without sponsorship, set to open on 30 May 2022, and the Scale-up visa route for SMEs to employ highly-skilled migrant workers without the need to sponsor them, scheduled to open on 22August 2022.

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Disclaimer
This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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