New Statement of Changes to the UK Immigration Rules, introducing the Global Business Mobility Routes

28th April 2022 Immigration

On 11 April 2022, the Home Office introduced the new Global Business Mobility Routes in order to replace the existing Intra-Company Transfer (ICT), Sole Representation of an Overseas Business and Temporary Worker visa routes.

It has now been a year since the UK Government announced its ‘Build Back Better: our plan for growth’ and the ‘New Plan for Immigration’. The new modernised immigration system introduced at the beginning of 2021 aims to streamline sponsorship processes and deliver a new route for skilled workers, and specialist work routes for businesses and those with recognised or high-potential talent in their field.

Since Brexit, the UK has indeed seen a decline in its economy as a large percentage of its high-growth innovative businesses employ or are founded by migrants. We can certainly say that the Covid-19 pandemic did not help either.

In its incentive to continue to attract global talent and boost investment, the UK Government has further introduced the new Global Business Mobility routes as part of its vision to create a high skilled, high wage economy and to make the process more fluid for both EEA and non-EEA nationals coming to live in the UK.

The new Global Business Mobility routes are mainly aimed at applicants coming to the UK on temporary assignments and do not lead to settlement. Family members will be able to join as dependants.

The introduction of these new routes can be seen as a positive step in recruiting and retaining top talent in the UK. Although, most of the new Global Business Mobility routes are similar to the previous routes, with the main changes being either a small increase in salary requirement threshold or the length of maximum stay, these should hopefully still remain attractive for businesses to sponsor workers. Further the fact that some routes can be granted for a longer period may also be attractive for applicants that wish to stay in the UK for longer but who do not intend to settle in the UK.

1. Global Business Mobility– Senior or Specialist Worker

This route replaces the current Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route. It will allow senior managers or specialist employees to come to the UK for temporary work assignments from their employer overseas.

The requirements remain similar to the ICT visa. The applicant must have worked for the overseas entity for at least 12 months unless classed as a high earner. The role must be at an appropriate skill level and fall under an eligible occupation code. The main change is the increase in the salary requirement threshold from £41,000 to £42,400 per year. High earners need to earn £73,900 or more.

Applicants can stay in the UK for up to 5 years under this route, or up to 9 years, if a high earner.

2. Global Business Mobility – Graduate Trainee

This route is intended for overseas workers on a graduate training course leading to a senior management or specialist position and who are required to do a work placement in the UK. This replaces the ICT Graduate Trainee route.

Similarly to the ICT Graduate Trainee route, applicants must be working for the overseas entity for at least 3 months before the date of application, and the role must fall under an eligible occupation code. The minimum salary threshold has however been increased from £23,000 to £23,100 per year.

The maximum stay on the Graduate Trainee route is 12 months.

3. Global Business Mobility – UK Expansion Worker

The UK Expansion Worker route replaces the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa. One important change is that, unlike the Sole Representative route, this route will no longer lead to settlement. Instead, permission can only be granted up to 2 years in total.

Unlike the Sole Representative route, there will be no limit on the number of Expansion Workers a business can sponsor at one time. This means that applicants will no longer need to have full authority to take operational decisions on behalf of the business to be eligible. Applicants will also now be able to be a majority stakeholder in the overseas parent company. This therefore makes this route more attractive.

Under the UK Expansion Worker route, overseas companies will be required to obtain a Sponsor Licence before they have started trading in the UK. The new route requires companies to undertake more preparation and provide significantly more documentation in support of their application such as, evidence of registration as a UK branch of an overseas company with Companies House, evidence of business premises in the UK, evidence that the business has actively traded overseas for at least 12 months, evidence through corporate bank statement of the business’ capability to fund the planned expansion, together with the business expansion plans for the UK.

The applicant must have worked for the overseas entity for at least 12 months unless otherwise exempt. The role must be at an appropriate skill level and fall under an eligible occupation code. It must also meet the salary requirement threshold of £42,400 per year, or the going rate requirement specific to the eligible occupation code, whichever is higher.

4. Global Business Mobility – Service Supplier

As the replacement to the Appendix Temporary Work – International Agreement route, this route allows workers employed by an oversea service provider or self-employed independent professionals based overseas, to undertake an assignment in the UK to provide services covered by one of the UK’s international trade commitments.

Services include:

  • Fashion and modelling
  • Chef de cuisine
  • Entertainment services (excluding audio-visual services under the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement)
  • Management consulting services and services related to management consulting (managers and senior consultants)
  • Advertising or translation
  • Technical testing and analysis

The applicant should be working as or for an overseas service provider for at least 12 months prior to applying. The sponsor must be authorised to sponsor a Service Supplier and have a contract with the overseas service provider, which has been registered with the Home Office.

The applicant must either be sponsored for a role which fall under an occupation code for the Global Business Mobility routes or must have a university degree or equivalent level technical qualification.

This route can be granted for a maximum of 5 years, compared to only 12 months under the International Agreement route, making once again the route more attractive.

5. Global Business Mobility – Secondment Worker

This new route allows overseas workers to be seconded to the UK as part of a high value contract or investment by their employer overseas. The applicant must have worked for the overseas business for a cumulative period of at least 12 months.

Sponsors must be authorised to sponsor secondment workers. This route cannot be used to supply resources to vacant roles for third parties, nor can it be used to fill an ongoing routine role or to provide an ongoing routine service for third parties, regardless of the nature or length of any arrangement between the sponsor and the third party.

The Secondment Worker route can be granted for up to 5 years.

Whilst most of the new Global Business Mobility Routes can be seem as positive and attractive change to the immigration rules to attract high skilled talent into the UK, the UK Expansion Worker route might seem as more onerous. The impact of the new rules is however yet to be seen.

We are a specialist immigration department based in London. If you have any questions regarding the new changes in the Immigration Rules or would like to discuss an immigration query, please feel free to contact us by telephone on 0345 241 5305 or by email.

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Audrey L'Etang is a Paralegal located in Londonin our Immigration department

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