Global Business Mobility Routes to the UK
Presently, there are five Global Business Mobility immigration routes to the UK. Overseas businesses with a presence in the country use these routes to temporarily transfer their foreign national staff to the UK for a specific work assignment that cannot be undertaken by their UK-based employees.
These five immigration pathways were introduced on 11 April 2022, and some of them replace legacy routes. We will discuss these routes in detail in this section.
Spouse/civil partners and dependent children of an overseas worker coming to the UK via any of the above Global Business Mobility pathways can apply for a dependent visa.
Please note that none of these Global Business Mobility immigration routes lead to a permanent settlement in the UK, nor permission in these routes counts towards the qualifying period of stay required to settle in the country.
- Global Business Mobility Routes to the UK
- Global Business Mobility Sponsor Licence Eligibility Criteria
- Documents for a Global Business Mobility Sponsor Licence Application
- How to Apply for a Global Business Mobility Sponsor Licence
- Processing Time
- Fee for Global Business Mobility Sponsor Licence
- What If My Application Has Been Accepted?
- What If My Application Has Been Refused?
- How Can Total Law Help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Senior or Specialist Worker
When the overseas worker is a senior manager or specialist employee, who is being assigned to a UK business linked to their employer overseas to undertake temporary work assignments in the country, they will need to apply for a Senior or Specialist Worker visa.
The Senior or Specialist Worker visa has replaced the legacy Intra-Company Transfer visa, formerly known as the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Long-term Staff visa.
The Graduate Trainee visa is applicable where the overseas worker is on a graduate training programme leading to a senior management or specialist position, and is required to do a work placement in the UK as part of the training programme. They are assigned to a UK business linked to their employer overseas to undertake temporary work assignments in the country.
The Graduate Trainee visa has replaced the legacy Intra-Company Graduate Trainee visa.
A Secondment Worker visa is applicable for overseas workers undertaking temporary work assignments in the country, where they are being seconded to the UK as part of a high value contract or investment by their overseas employer.
UK Expansion Worker
When the overseas worker is a senior manager or specialist employee, who is undertaking temporary work assignments in the country related to their business’ expansion to the UK, they must apply for a UK Expansion Worker visa.
This route replaces the (unsponsored) sole representative provisions of the Representative of an Overseas Business route (although that is not considered a legacy route).
The Service Supplier visa is applicable where the overseas worker is either a contractual service supplier employed by an overseas service provider or a self-employed independent professional based outside the UK, and they need to undertake an assignment in the country to provide services covered by any of the UK’s international trade agreements, either in force or being provisionally applied.
This visa replaces the legacy provisions for contractual service suppliers and independent professionals on the International Agreement route.
A UK business seeking to sponsor an overseas worker via any of the five Global Business Mobility routes will require a valid sponsor licence for the relevant route(s). There are two categories of a sponsor licence:
- Worker sponsor licence: To sponsor an overseas worker coming to the UK via the Senior or Specialist Worker route, your company must hold a Worker sponsor licence
- Temporary Worker sponsor licence: If your company holds a Temporary Worker sponsor licence, you can sponsor overseas staff coming to the country via the following Global Business Mobility routes:
- Graduate Trainee
- UK Expansion Worker
- Service Supplier
- Secondment Worker
If your company/organisation does not hold such a licence, you will need to apply for the same. In case your company/organisation holds a valid licence to sponsor workers/temporary workers already, but it does not include any of the GBM routes, you will have to apply to add one or more these routes, as required, to your existing licence.
To obtain a valid global business mobility sponsor licence, you must meet certain eligibility criteria, such as:
- You must be a genuine business legally operating in the UK (except sponsors applying for the UK Expansion Worker route, who must not already be actively trading in the country at the time of application)
- You are a honest, dependable, and reliable business entity
- You have appropriate HR systems, policies and processes in place to monitor sponsored workers, and have appointed key personnel to manage sponsorship in your business in compliance with the Home Office regulations
- You or your key personnel do not have unspent criminal convictions for immigration offences or financial crimes like money laundering, fraud etc.
- You have not had a sponsor licence revoked in the last 12 months
- You must be in a position to offer a genuine job offer in the UK, meeting the relevant skill level requirement of the Global Business Mobility route(s) applicable in your case
- You must be able to pay a salary in line with the rates set out in the Immigration Rules to your overseas staff coming to the UK via the Global Business Mobility route:
- Senior or specialist workers, graduate trainees and UK expansion workers must meet a general salary and the ‘going-rate’ requirement
- Service suppliers and secondment workers’ salary/compensation must be in compliance with the national minimum wage legislation in the UK
- You must adhere to the regulations on third-party working, if applicable
- You must have a qualifying overseas business link, such as:
- You and the overseas business are linked by common ownership and/or control, or by a joint venture agreement, to sponsor a senior or specialist worker, or a graduate trainee
- You are in possession of an eligible contract with an overseas service provider for the supply of a service covered by a relevant UK trade commitment, to sponsor a service supplier
- You have an eligible contract with an overseas business for goods and/or investment worth at least £10 million per year or £50 million in total, to sponsor a secondment worker
Moreover, if you are seeking to sponsor a UK Expansion Worker visa, you will have to meet certain additional requirements, such as:
- You have a UK footprint
- You have a credible expansion plan
- You have a trading presence overseas, which has been active and trading for at least three years
- You are capable of, and have an intention of, establishing a new UK branch or wholly-owned subsidiary within a two-year period from applying for the licence
Failure to meet the eligibility criteria for a Global Business Mobility sponsor licence will lead to the refusal of your application. You may also be prohibited from reapplying for a period of at least six months.
So, please consider speaking with an expert immigration lawyer before you apply for a Global Business Mobility sponsor licence. Call us on +44 (0)333 305 9375 to speak to one of our legal team members.
Supporting Documents for a Global Business Mobility Sponsor Licence Application
The size/nature of your business and the length of time for which you are legally operating in the UK (except for sponsors applying for the UK Expansion Worker route) will decide the supporting documents you will need to submit for your sponsor licence.
The supporting document may include (but are not limited to):
- Latest account statements (audited or unaudited)
- Employer’s liability insurance certificate (of at least £5 million in insurance from an authorised insurer)
- VAT registration certificate
- Latest corporate bank account statements
- HMRC registration evidence, e.g. the company’s PAYE and accounts office reference numbers
- Proof of ownership of business premises or a rental lease for the same
- Proof of registration (where the company is required to be registered with and/or inspected or monitored by a regulatory body)
- Proof of nomination/appointment of eligible employees or office holders to undertake the key personnel roles i.e. that of the Authorising Officer, Key Contact and Level 1 User
- A service contract for a period of 12 months or less with an overseas provider, if you are applying for the Service Supplier route
- For the Senior or Specialist Worker and the Graduate Trainee routes, proof of common ownership or control between the UK entity and the overseas entity
- Evidence of a graduate training programme for the Graduate Trainee route
- Proof of contract with an overseas company for goods/investment worth at least £10 million a year, or £50 million in total, for the Secondment Worker route
It is advisable to submit as many relevant supporting documents as possible along with your Global Business Mobility sponsor licence application, in case the Home Office raises concerns regarding any of those documents.
How to Apply for a Global Business Mobility Sponsor Licence
The Global Business Mobility sponsor licence application is an online process. First, you will need to register your details online by completing the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) Online sponsor application registration. After this registration, you will log into the UKVI ‘Sponsor application log in’ page to start filling up the online application form.
Once you have completed the online application form, you must email scanned copies of the submission sheet (as received at the end of your online application) and supporting documents, where applicable, to the Home Office within five working days. The relevant Home Office email ID is provided on the submission sheet.
Your supporting documents must be in .pdf, .jpeg or .png format, with descriptive titles of 25 or fewer characters. The resolution must be high enough to be legible. Any affidavits or statutory declarations sent by you must be witnessed by a qualified, independent person (e.g. a solicitor, Notary Public, Justice of the Peace, Commissioner for Oaths etc.).
If your documents are not in English or Welsh, you will have to include a certified translation.
The application should not take more than 30 minutes to complete if you have all necessary information with you before filling up the online form.
The Home Office takes up to eight weeks to reach a decision for most Global Business Mobility sponsor licence applications. However, you may be able to fast-track your application by paying an extra £500 to get a decision within 10 working days.
Fee for Global Business Mobility Sponsor Licence
A small or charitable organisation will have to pay £536 for a Worker, a Temporary Worker, or a combined Worker and Temporary Worker licence. They can add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licence or vice versa for no fee.
A medium or large sponsor will need to pay £1,476 for a Worker or a combined Worker and Temporary Worker licence, £536 for a Temporary Worker licence, and £940 to add a Worker licence to an existing Temporary Worker licence. They can add a Temporary Worker licence to an existing Worker licence for no fee.
What If My Application Has Been Accepted?
An A-rated licence is granted if your application is successful. However, your licence may be downgraded to a B-rating if you fail to meet your sponsorship responsibilities going forward.
A company with a B-rating will not be able to issue Certificates of Sponsorship to its overseas staff applying for Global Business Mobility visas.
You will have to reach out to UKVI for an action plan to upgrade to an A-rating. The plan will cost you £1,476. You will have to pay the fee within 10 working days from the date of your downgrade notice, and request for the action plan. You will lose your licence if you fail to do so.
If you can successfully complete all the steps listed in the UKVI action plan, you will be upgraded back to an A-rating. Failure to do so will lead to the loss of your licence.
A company can have a maximum of two B-ratings during the four years of their licence validity. If they fail to make improvements even after the second action plan, they will lose the licence.
Once a licence is revoked, no appeal is possible. The company will have to wait for at least 12 months before they can reapply for a licence.
What If My Application Has Been Refused?
You can request a review of your application in a refusal scenario. However, you must be able to prove either that your application was refused because the caseworker processing your application made a mistake, or that your supporting documents were not considered.
How Can Total Law Help?
Applying for a Global Business Mobility sponsor licence in the UK is a complex process. In particular, the sponsor licence requirements are varied in nature, depending on the size of your business as well as length of your active trading presence in the country.
In case of an application refusal, appealing the same is possible only in certain limited circumstances.
Furthermore, a rigorous compliance regime on the company’s part is a must to keep your licence A-rated. Not only the policies, processes and key personnel have to be in place, but you will also have to ensure they are functioning in compliance with the Home Office rules and regulations.
If your licence is revoked, no appeal is possible and you will have to wait for a mandatory period of at least 12 months before you can reapply, which, in turn, may impact your business or expansion plans in the UK.
Total Law can help.
If you are seeking bespoke advice with your Global Business Mobility sponsor licence application, including eligibility, supporting documentation and the application process, our team of expert immigration lawyers can assist you even if your case is complicated.
We also offer a document and application checking service if you need a final check to confirm that your documents and application are in accordance with UKVI specifications, as well as an appeal package if you need to appeal a refusal decision.
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No. None of the Global Business Mobility routes lead to an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK. Global Business Mobility is a non-settlement immigration pathway, which allows overseas workers undertake only temporary work assignments in the country.
A Global Business Mobility sponsor licence is valid for four years, and is renewable thereafter. However, the licence is not renewable for the Expansion Worker route.