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UK Expansion Worker Visa (GBM) Application Guide

In our earlier post Senior or Specialist Worker Visa (GBM) FAQs, we provided answers to a number of frequently asked questions regarding the Senior or Specialist Worker Visa. In this application guide we look at the Global Business MobilityUK Expansion Worker route. For the remaining Global Business Mobility routes, please see our pages on the Graduate Trainee, Service Supplier and Secondment Worker routes.

What is a UK Expansion Worker Visa?

The UK Expansion Worker route is for overseas businesses wishing to send senior managers and specialist employees to undertake work related to a business’s expansion to the UK. You must be currently working for the overseas business and the overseas business must be linked to the UK sponsor by common ownership or control. To rely on the UK Expansion Worker route, the business must not have started trading in the UK.

General Requirements for a UK Expansion Worker Visa

To be eligible for a UK Expansion Worker Visa

  • You must be aged 18 or over; 
  • The job which you are planning to do must be genuine and at an appropriate skill level;
  • The UK sponsor will need to assign a valid certificate of sponsorship to you;
  • The job must be paid at an appropriate rate; 
  • You may be required to provide a valid Tuberculosis certificate; 

UK Expansion Worker Visa: Salary and Skill Level Requirements

UK Expansion Worker Skill Level

One of the requirements for a UK Expansion Worker Visa is that the job you are being sponsored to do must be at an appropriate skill level. To meet the requirement, the job must be in an occupation code listed in Appendix Skilled Occupations and be eligible for the Global Business Mobility route. To assess whether the job is at an appropriate skill level, the Home Office may look at whether there is a genuine need for the job, whether you have the skills and qualifications, the UK Sponsor’s history of compliance with the immigration system and any other information relating to the UK Sponsor. If there are any concerns, they may conduct an announced or unannounced compliance visit

UK Expansion Worker Salary Level

The salary for the job must equal or exceed both the general salary of £45,800 per year and the going rate for the occupation code mentioned above. 

UK Sponsorship for a UK Expansion Worker Visa

In order to apply for a UK Expansion Worker Visa, you will need to be sponsored by an A-rated UK Sponsor who holds a UK Expansion Worker Sponsor Licence and is on the Home Office’s Register of Worker and Temporary Worker licensed sponsors. The exception is if your last granted permission was as a UK Expansion Worker and you are applying to continue to work for the same Sponsor. Another exception is if you are also the UK Sponsor’s authorising officer on their sponsor licence and the sponsor who is sponsoring you as a UK Expansion Worker has a provisional rating. 

What is the Overseas Work Requirement for UK Expansion Workers?

One of the requirements for a UK Expansion Worker Visa is that you will need to have worked outside the UK for at least 12 months.  The requirements are set out in the Immigration Rules:

An applicant as a UK Expansion Worker must:

  • (a) be currently working for the sponsor group; and
  • (b) have worked outside the UK for the sponsor group for a cumulative period of at least 12 months, unless the applicant is either:
  • (i) applying as a high earner; or
  • (ii) a Japanese national seeking to establish a UK branch or subsidiary of the sponsor group under the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement; or
  • (iii) a national or permanent resident of Australia seeking to establish a UK branch or subsidiary of the sponsor group under the Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Australia (when the agreement comes into force or is provisionally applied).

The period outside the UK can be accumulated over any period if you were continuously working for the business, whether inside or outside the UK, from the beginning of the 12 months to the date of application. If there were any breaks, the reasons were due to statutory maternity, paternity, parental or shared parental leave, statutory adoption leave, sick leave, assisting with a national or international humanitarian or environmental crisis with the agreement of the sponsor group, taking part in legally organised industrial action, jury service or attending court as a witness. 

Is there a Maintenance Requirement for the UK Expansion Worker Visa?

Yes, there is a financial requirement to have funds of at least £1,270 available if you are applying for entry clearance or you have been living in the UK for less than 12 months. If you are applying for permission to stay and have been in the UK with permission for 12 months or more, the financial requirement has been met and you do not need to  show funds.  

Is there an English Language Requirement for a Global Business Mobility – UK Expansion Worker Visa?

The UK Expansion Worker Visa has no English language requirement.

Application Fees and Processing Times for the UK Expansion Worker Route

The current Home Office application fee for a UK Expansion Worker Visa is £259.00 plus the Immigration Health Charge, which is £624 per year. 

The published processing times for applications submitted outside the UK are 3 weeks and 8 weeks for inside the UK. There may be priority services available. 

Length of Stay on a UK Expansion Worker Visa

If the application for entry clearance as a UK Expansion Worker is approved, permission will be granted for a period of one year after the start date of the job stated on the CoS or 14 days after the end date of the job on the CoS, whichever is shorter. 

Extensions of Stay and ILR on the UK Expansion Worker Visa

The UK Expansion Worker route does not lead to settlement. You may be able to extend your visa and stay in the UK for a maximum of 2 years in total on a UK Expansion Worker Visa. However, if you were previously granted permission in the GBM routes and Intra-Company routes, the maximum period you can stay in the UK must not be more than 5 years in any 6 year period. 

There are other immigration categories to consider that could lead to settlement such as the Skilled Worker or Scale-Up categories or other options such as the Global Talent or Innovator Founder routes.

Contact Our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice and assistance in relation to a Global Business Mobility Visa application, contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via the enquiry form below.


To arrange an initial consultation meeting, call our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or fill out the form below.

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