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By Vanessa Ganguin

All you need to know about the Global Business Mobility visa for overseas firms sending employees to the UK

We are eagerly awaiting to see how the UK Government’s latest immigration reform to reflect the global nature of business pans out. The Global Business Mobility visa is set to commence in Spring 2022 and will provide more new solutions for overseas firms moving staff to the UK.

Who should apply for a Global Business Mobility visa?

Global Business Mobility visas should prove helpful for overseas firms establishing a UK footprint or transferring trainees, senior and specialist staff to the UK to fulfil contracts – whether or not a firm has a UK presence.

The Home Office is dividing the new immigration route into five categories:

  • Senior or specialist worker to meet specific business needs
  • Graduate trainee as part of a training programme
  • Secondment worker to UK firms in high value contracts or investments
  • Service supplier to the UK in line with UK trade agreements
  • UK expansion worker to establish a UK presence

The first three are aimed at firms with a UK presence, the last three at firms with no UK presence. (Secondments are a route for both.)

What requirements will Global Business Mobility visa applicants need to demonstrate?

The Home Office has intimated that depending on which of the above assignments they are on, applicants will face the following requirements:

  • Sponsorship by the UK entity receiving applicants
  • Appropriate skill level for the role
  • A salary threshold
  • Minimum length of time an applicant has been employed by the overseas firm
  • Assignments will be temporary  (though flexible and routes should be switchable to more permanent status)

These requirements will be confirmed when more details of this new visa are announced. Unlike other immigration routes, such as the Skilled Worker visa, there is not expected to be an English language requirement.

What problems will the Global Business Mobility visa solve?

Shortfalls the Global Business Mobility visa is set to address include setting up a subsidiary in the UK and being able to send a whole specialist team of “expansion workers” not just the sole representative currently allowed. There will now be a route for businesses to send workers to establish a branch or subsidiary which will be suitable for many more firms and scenarios than existing routes. Sponsorship will allow a transition to later sponsor such a team in more permanent roles.

The new visa will also enable for the first time secondments in high value import and export deals and to oversee substantial investment – something that is not possible at present. Secondments to a UK firm you may be doing business with would allow your staff to oversee production and get hands-on experience in a way that would be tricky under a visitor visa.

Who would sponsor workers on the Global Business Mobility route?

According to the details released so far by the Home Office, the UK business that receives the workers will be the sponsor licence holder. Applicants would need to demonstrate they have a receiving business, a sending business and that there is a business relationship between them.

For example an overseas parent company could be sending staff to a UK subsidiary; or an overseas service supplier may have a contract with a UK client; or an overseas company could be sending staff on secondment to a UK supplier of goods or setting up a UK branch pre-trading (as in the above examples.)

What else do we know about the Global Business Mobility visa?

“Immigration routes that may once have worked for business, no longer do; they have not evolved in tandem with businesses,” a recent Home Office briefing admits. The new reform will “enable an overseas business to temporarily send an employee to the UK for a specific corporate purpose that could not be done by a resident worker.” There will be provision for switching to more permanent routes too.

In practice the new route appears to consolidate the existing Intra-Company Transfer (plus recent Migration Advisory Committee recommendations on the route following a consultation) along with other business mobility routes such as Sole Representative of an Overseas Business, Intra-Company Graduate Trainee visa and the Temporary Work – International Agreement visa.

The Global Business Mobility visa appears to be a rebrand and update of such existing routes to facilitate international agreement visas for contractual service suppliers and independent professionals, secondments or short term assignments and – if the Migration Advisory Committee’s recent recommendations are indeed followed – to enable a team of up to five to come to the UK to establish a subsidiary of an overseas business. The influential committee’s report also recommended allowing time spent on the temporary Intra-Company Transfer route to count towards a route to settlement. Hopefully this recommendation will also inform the Global Business Mobility visa to make like easier for people who need to stay on a more permanent basis.

As always the devil will be in the detail. For more details watch this space. To keep abreast of developments in this and other new immigration routes, or for a strategic consultation on what would work best for you or your firm, please contact us on 0207 033 9527 or enquiries@vanessaganguin.com.