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

free movement immigration

28 March 2022

The UK government has published changes to the Immigration Rules introducing the Global Business Mobility visa. They come into force on 11 April 2022 and provide new solutions for overseas firms transferring staff to the UK.

Announcing the route last year, the Home Office admitted that “immigration routes that may once have worked for business, no longer do; they have not evolved in tandem with businesses”. But how much of this route will be genuinely new and useful rather than consolidating existing options in a rebranding exercise?

Who will be able to use the Global Business Mobility route?

The Global Business Mobility visa will have five pathways for overseas firms to establish a UK footprint or transfer staff to the UK:

  • 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 options for firms with a UK presence, the last three for firms with no UK presence. (Secondments will be an option for both.) The worker will require sponsorship in all cases.

In practice the new route consolidates the existing Intra-Company Transfer, Intra-Company Graduate Trainee, Representative of an Overseas Business and International Agreement visas. Of the five pathways, only UK expansion workers and secondments (to use the new terminology) see significant changes. The recommendation of the Migration Advisory Committee to allow Intra-Company Transfer visa holders (now Senior or Specialist Workers) to settle in the UK has not been followed.

What details still need to be ironed out?

Although the Rules about how visa applicants can score points are now confirmed, the requirements and process for an organisation becoming a sponsor and the types of roles that can be sponsored under the various categories have not yet been published.

Since the new routes come into force on 11 April 2022, there is not long left for the Home Office to publish guidance so companies can apply for licences in the new categories in time for people to make their visa applications from this date. There could be a gap between, for example, the closure of the Sole Rep route and companies being in a position to sponsor Expansion Workers, in which businesses are temporarily unable to send workers to the UK in an appropriate visa category.