The UK Expansion Worker scheme has replaced the Sole Representative route, but there are some very significant differences. This new category is meant for senior managers or specialist employees of overseas businesses intending to expand their presence in the UK.
Please note that the Sole Representative route closed at 9 am on 11 April 2022. However, individuals who are already in this category will be able to extend their leave and apply for settlement as before, but no new applicants will be accepted.
When comparing to the Sole Representative scheme, the UK Expansion Worker route will not lead to settlement in the UK.
Migrants will need to receive a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for the job they are planning to do, and the sponsor must be authorized by the Home Office to sponsor a UK Expansion Worker. The prospective UK Expansion Worker must:
(i) applying as a high earner with a salary in the amount of £73900; or
(ii) a Japanese national seeking to establish a UK branch or subsidiary of the sponsoring group under the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement
In addition, please note that:
(iii) the general gross UK annual salary requirement is set at £42,400 and 100% of the pro-rated going rate for the occupation, whichever is higher;
(iv) the overseas company must show a genuine need for the UK role; and
(v) the applicant will need to have sufficient funds to maintain himself in the UK.
There is no English language requirement.
If your application is approved, you will normally be granted leave as a UK Expansion Worker for a minimum period of 1 year.
It is possible to apply to extend this visa from within the UK for two years, however it may also be possible to switch from the UK Expansion Worker visa route into an immigration category, which does lead to settlement.
Other important considerations
As a UK Expansion worker, you are only permitted to work in the UK in the role, for which you are being sponsored.
There no longer appears to be a limit on the shareholding of worker coming to the UK, meaning that this category is open to business founders who have more than 50% shareholding in their business -the latter excluded many from the Representative of an Overseas Business route.
This new route also does not limit applications to a single overseas applicant. As a result, a senior team could all apply together to enter the UK to expand an overseas business.
The UK Expansion Worker visa allows to bring a dependent spouse/partner and dependent children who are under the age of 18 at the time of the initial application.
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