Movement of People Timeline

There are a number of benefits to moving employees from your home country to the UK however, since the UK is no longer a part of the EU, movement into the country has become considerably more difficult. You may be able to visit the UK on short term assignments or with the business visitor Visa, however if you wish to stay for longer it’s likely you will require a visa – the vast majority of which require sponsorship from an employer.

Despite the new and extended process, there remains distinct benefits in bringing employees from HQ to the UK, including knowledge of systems & processes, existing clients and helping to build the company culture. This knowledge can be quickly shared with new UK hires. 

The fees stated below are a guide. Additional fees may apply for certificate of sponsorship, immigration skills charges, immigration health surcharge  and also fast track fees.

Understanding Your Visa Options

Visit this link here should you wish to visit the UK for work, to understand whether you require a work Visa.

  • If you are in the UK on a short-term assignment for work, you may be able to use a business visitor visa.
  • If you are a leader in your discipline, the Global Talent Visa might be suitable.
  • If you are launching the UK operations, the UK Expansion Worker Visa might work.
  • If none are suitable, you may need to apply for a sponsorship license.

Our step-by-step timeline will guide you through the options, the associated costs, possible limitations to the different visas, and the timeframe.

Name of VisaSponsorship RequiremntsTimeframe of DecisionValidityLimitationsRough Costs
Business Visitor VisaNoUp to 3 weeks
Up to 6 months (can be extended)
Only certain work related activities can be done, as well as people from certain countries
£115
Global Talent Visa
NoOutside of the UK, 3 weeks
Up to 5 years (can be extended, see terms)
Have to be top of league within respective industry£1000+
Expansion Worker Visa
YesOutside of the UK, 3 weeks (once sponsorship has been granted)
Up to 2 yearsEligible job role, minimum salary requirements, 1+ year of employment with overseas employer (who needs to have been trading for 3+ years), minimum amount in personal bank
£800+
Skilled Worker Visa
Yes3 weeks (once sponsorship is granted)
5 yearsEligible job role, minimum salary requirements, required level of English, minimum amount in personal bank
£900+
Senior / Specialist Worker Visa
Yes4 weeks (once sponsorship is granted)
Up to 5 years (can be extended, see terms)
Eligible job role, minimum salary requirements, duration of service affects required min salary, minimum amount in personal bank, time doesn't count towards application.
£1,200-£2,000+

Understanding the Business Visitor Visa

Granted fairly quickly and cheaply compared to most other Visa types, with no requirement for sponsorship, the Business Visitor Visa is valid for up to 6 months. Unfortunately, there are strict activities you can partake in whilst in the UK however, the process and costs of the Visa are considerably quicker and cheaper compared to many other options, so you should consider this as the first option. Accepted activities include but are not limited to:

  • attending interviews, meetings, conferences and seminars
  • negotiating and sign deals and contracts
  • attending trade fairs to promote your business (you cannot sell things)
  • partaking in work-related training if you’re employed overseas and the training is not available in your home country

See the full list here: https://www.gov.uk/standard-visitor/visit-on-business

It should be noted that, depending on your nationality, you may not need to apply for anything at all. Visit here to check.

Visa Length: Up to 6 months (with opportunity to extend)
Timeframe of decision: Within 3 weeks
Fees: £100

Global Talent Visa

There is a popular visa option that does not require a sponsorship, and can be granted fairly quickly. This would be a Global Talent Visa.

This requires endorsements to prove that you are a leader or potential leader (top of their league) in one of the following fields:

– Academia or Research
– Arts and Culture
– Digital Technology

Visa length: Up to 5 years with opportunity for renewal
Timeframe for decision: Outside the UK, 3 weeks
Fees: £716
– Healthcare Surcharge: £624 subject to change

Understanding alternative visas:

If none of the Visa’s work for you currently, your UK business is likely going to require a sponsorship license, which will allow you to sponsor individuals to come to the UK.

To apply for a sponsorship license you must have a UK company, an FCA regulated UK bank account and someone working in the UK for the UK company at an appropriate level with clear oversight of the recruitment process, to act as the “Authorising Officer”.

Our HR Team will work with you throughout the full application process and help you compile all the relevant information to ensure a smooth and efficient submission.

UK Expansion Worker Visa

UK Expansion Worker Visa allows you to come to the UK to help set up the operations of an overseas business that has not yet started trading in the UK. If you are already trading in the UK, this visa does not apply.

To be eligible you need:
– a valid sponsorship from your employer
– do a job on the eligible list of occupations
– paid the minimal eligible salary required for your job (at least £45,800 pa or the going rate)
– worked for your employer outside the UK for at least 12 months (subject to acceptances, see them here)

Once the first hire (and Authoring Officer) is brought to the UK, the Sponsor Licence can be upgraded (as there is a UK based Authorising Officer) and a further 4 hires brought to the UK provided they meet the job etc requirements. Once the company has started trading in the UK (within set timescale) the Company can apply for a wider range of Sponsorship Licence categories with more flexibility. Each person coming to the UK under the Expansion Visa must be provided with a Certificate of Sponsorship before applying for a Visa (explained further in this guide)

Sponsorship length:  Up to 2 years after the start date of the job on your sponsorship certificate
Timeframe of decision: 3 weeks, outside the UK
Fees: £259
– Healthcare Surcharge: £624, subject to change
Minimum in Bank: £1,270

Skilled Worker Visa

Employee Specifications:

– Points based Visa system
– Appropriate job on the Government approved occupation list
– Prove ability to speak/read/write/listen in English to a required level, proven with test or university certifications
– Minimum salary as per job occupation code, usually set at £26,200
– Can be new to the company

Sponsorship length: 12 months after the start date of the job on your sponsorship certificate, ability to sponsor up to 5 years
Timeframe of decision: 3 weeks (once sponsorship license is granted)
Fees: from £719 for Visa Fee
– Healthcare Surcharge: £624 per year subject to change
–Minimum in Bank: £1,270
– Immigration skills charge (likely apply)

– Certificate of Sponsorship fee £239
– English assessment costs (potential cost)

Senior/Specialist Worker Visa

Employee Specifications:

 – Appropriate job on the Government approved occupation list (more restricted than Skilled Worker)
– NO requirement to prove English Language abilities
– They need to be working for the overseas company within the Group in order to be transferred to the UK.
– Duration of service will affect their required minimum salary
– Earn less than £45,800- £73,900 pa if they have worked for the employer for 12+ months (subject to ‘going rate’ for job). Anything less than 12 months service, they have to earn a minimum of £73,900 pa.

Sponsorship length: Up to 5 years with possibility of extension, provided there is an adequate break outside of the UK
Fees: Visa Application fee
Outside the UK = from £719pp
Inside the UK = from £827pp
Healthcare surcharge: £624, subject to change
Certificate of Sponsorship: £239
Minimum in Bank: £1,270
Timeline of Decision: 3 weeks (once sponsorship license is granted)

Apply for a certificate of Sponsorship

Once the sponsorship license has been granted under any route for your business (you must be granted a sponsorship licence for the relevant sponsorship route(s) you wish to utilise, this can take anything from 10 working days to 8 weeks to receive a decision on this), then you can apply for a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) under your approved licence to sponsor an employee. A CoS must be applied for each employee you plan to send to the UK through your licence. The employee must use it to apply for their visa within 3 months of the CoS being assigned to them by you.

Defined Certificates for Skilled Worker Visa applying from outside the UK, Undefined Certificates for Skilled Worker Visa applying from outside the UK (and always Defined Certificate for Senior/Specialist Visa types). The processing times can vary depending on whether you have an allocation already on your licence to use (Undefined Certificate) and whether you need to apply for an allocation first.

Under the Global Expansion Visa, there is the ability to assign one certificate of sponsorship by the Authorising Officer/Level 1 User outside the UK, so that they can apply for their Visa and once granted enter the UK. When the visa is granted, and the Authorising Officer has travelled and is a UK resident, the Sponsor Licence can be upgraded to an A-rating, and a further 4 certificates of sponsorship may be requested via this route.

Fees: £239 for a CoS + Immigration Skills Charge where applicable

Understanding Sponsorships in more detail

Visit our handy guide ‘Sponsorship, Secondments & Visas’ to gain a better understanding of the importance of a sponsorship in a Visa context.

Relocate to the UK

We have a number of trusted partners who can help family move to the UK as well as keep track of timeframes and key responsibilities as part of the visa you have been granted. Speak to our HR team to find out more.