Are there problems with the new UK Expansion Worker visa?
Could the new Expansion Worker visa be of any interest to skilled workers and business managers?
The first thing to consider is why this visa category has been introduced? And the answer is because the Home Office abolished the sole representative visa a few weeks ago. Why did they abolish it? Well, all sorts of reasons have been put forth, but they are not completely straightforward. In my view, the sole representative visa was abolished because too many people were applying for it. After the abolition of the entrepreneur visa, business visa routes to the UK were substantially curtailed. So, people with business interests were looking at ways to come to the UK as a sole representative of a foreign business. The Home Office, obviously, could see that because there were a lot of applications being made. They did try to tighten the rules to restrict the number of applications but clearly came to the conclusion they needed to curtail this visa.
The Home Office has now presented the UK expansion worker visa as a wonderful alternative. But it isn't, even though some people have tried to persuade us that it is. It isn’t as if this would be unattractive to everybody. It may suit a few people but not those that sought the sole representative visa or even the entrepreneur visa.
These are reasons, in my view, why this visa is unattractive. Firstly, you cannot get permanent residency through this route and you would have to switch to another visa. And all the time you spend in this visa category would not count towards your permanent residency in the UK, which, as we know, can lead to a British passport. Once you take that away, a big incentive disappears.
So if you are using this visa route, you need to have a plan to switch to another visa when you are in the UK such as a skilled worker visa, which would then lead you to permanent residency. To my mind, this is a big drawback.
The other aspect to consider is people’s personal circumstances. Why would senior managers come to the UK with their families when their stay is unlikely to be permanent and their children’s schooling would be uncertain. You wouldn’t want to put your children in school and then have to withdraw them in a year or two.
So it may be exceptionally hard for companies who do want to expand their businesses in the UK to persuade the right people to relocate with this visa. So these are just a couple of observations on this new visa, which you may want to bear in mind.