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New Sponsorship route to encourage international companies to expand to the UK

September 29, 2022

An overseas business can now obtain a sponsor licence to deploy its senior employees to establish its operations in the UK.  Up to now, only UK businesses could apply for a sponsor licence for the purpose of transferring workers from its overseas business to carry out work in the UK.

The UK Expansion Worker visa replaces the ‘Sole Representative of an Overseas Business’ visa.

The key to this visa is that the UK business should not be set up although the overseas sponsor will need to demonstrate a “footprint” in the UK – registration of the new UK company at Companies House or evidence of UK business premises.

The visa holder will be allowed to work in the UK to establish a UK office and then is given two years to establish the business.

The visa holder must have already worked for a linked overseas business for 12 months.  The employee must be paid a minimum of £42,400 per annum under this visa.  There is no English language requirement for the applicant.

To qualify as a sponsor, the overseas business must be able to prove their trading presence in their country, and that it has been active and trading for at least three years. It must provide credible plans to demonstrate how it will establish a UK business within two years.

Ideally the Authorising Officer (AO) who is responsible for sponsor licence compliance, should be based in the UK. In that case, up to five employees can be sponsored under the licence. It is possible for the AO to be based outside of the UK but a provisional licence rating will be given in this situation although this can be changed over time. 

The licence will be valid for four years but if the business is unable to establish a full trading presence in the UK in two years, the licence will not be renewed.

The applicant will need to show that he or she can maintain themselves in the UK without relying on the UK state, and will have to pay £259 application fee, and £624 immigration health surcharge per year.

The business will also need to pay £536 for the sponsorship licence plus a fee for issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship to the applicant. 

It is hoped that the new sponsorship route will encourage international companies to send skilled and specialist workers to the UK to create new business opportunities.

This route does not lead to settlement in the UK but it may be possible for the visa holder to switch immigration routes.

The material contained in this article is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. Appropriate legal advice should be sought for specific circumstances and before action is taken.

© Miller Rosenfalck LLP, September 2022