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UK Global Business Mobility visas

UK immigration routes for business development. Five immigration categories for foreign specialists

What Is a UK Global Business Mobility Visa?

Changes in the international arena are calling for a quick reaction from the British government, so it has recently updated its business immigration routes. New categories have been introduced that are called UK Global Business Mobility visas.

This article is an expert review of UK Global Business Mobility routes; it outlines the most important aspects of the visa application process. If you still have some questions after reading the article, feel free to contact Imperial & Legal advisors for more information.

What Are UK Global Business Mobility Visas For?

UK Global Business Mobility routes are five immigration categories that allow foreign specialists to work in the United Kingdom. However, these are non-settlement visas, meaning that it does not lead to an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). To stay in the UK permanently, you will have to switch to another visa category.

You may need a UK Global Business Mobility visa for opening an overseas representative of your business, a business trip, intra-company transfer, internship, carrying out a temporary contract, etc. In one way or another, your stay in the UK will be limited, and after you complete your work, you will have to either switch to another visa category to get ILR or leave the country.

The disadvantage of UK Global Business Mobility visas is that they substitute a few long-term and well-established visas, for example, the Intra-Company Transfer visa.

At the same time, UK Global Business Mobility visas offer a wider choice of immigration options and give more opportunities for foreign companies and entrepreneurs who either have a UK subsidiary or just plan to open it. For example, compared to a UK Sole Representative visa, a UK Global Business Mobility visa allows to employ not only a top manager of a company delegated to open an office in the UK but also several other representatives. In other words, if immigration hurdles do not bother you much and you want to open a UK subsidiary to get a profitable contract, the new immigration routes offer more benefits than inconveniences. 

UK Global Business Mobility visas allow to employ specialists from different fields and of different expertise to launch and run a business in the UK. Imperial & Legal advisors are ready to help you in choosing the appropriate immigration category and obtaining the required visa.

UK Global Business Mobility Visas 

There are five UK Global Business Mobility visa routes:

  1. Senior or Specialist Worker
  2. Graduate Trainee
  3. Expansion Worker
  4. Service Supplier
  5. Secondment Worker.

All these categories allow a foreign worker to come to the UK for professional training, on a business trip or to carry out a temporary contract as either a senior or specialist worker. Each immigration category is described in detail below.

1. Senior or Specialist Worker

This immigration category covers senior and specialist workers who come to the UK to run a UK subsidiary.

To get a visa, the company that invites you to the UK must be able to issue a certificate of sponsorship.

2. Graduate Trainee

The Graduate Trainee category is for internships. To apply under this category, the following requirements must be met:

  • Training is offered by a trading British company registered with the Home Office as a sponsor
  • Training period is defined and limited
  • Training leads to a specialist or senior worker position.

3. UK Expansion Worker

The UK Expansion Worker category suits senior and specialist workers who relocate to the UK to expand business here.

4. Service Supplier

The Service Supplier category was created for two types of foreign specialists:

  • Officially employed
  • Freelance workers staying in the UK under one of the international trade agreements.

The receiving company must have an A-category sponsorship licence to be able to issue a certificate of sponsorship to a foreign specialist.

5. Secondment Worker

The Secondment Worker category allows foreign specialists to come to the UK to carry out works within the framework of a high-value contract or to launch an investment project.

What Visas Do UK Global Business Mobility Visas Substitute?

The below table demonstrates the correlation between the old and newly introduced immigration routes:

Old visa

Global Business Mobility immigration category

Intra-Company Transfer

Senior or Specialist Worker

Intra-Company Graduate Trainee

Graduate Trainee

Temporary Workers International Agreement

Service Supplier

Representative of an Overseas Business

UK Expansion Worker

Unfortunately, old business visas issued to foreign specialists and trainees, once expired, will be substituted with the similar UK Global Business Mobility categories. Intra-Company Transfer and Intra-Company Graduate Trainee visas, for example, will not be extended, and new immigration routes will not lead to ILR anymore.

Sole representatives will still be able to extend their visas. However, if they need more employees, they will have to switch to the UK Expansion Worker category to invite up to five additional company representatives.

Validity of UK Global Business Mobility Visas

The table lists the maximum stay in the UK for all UK Global Business Mobility visa categories:

Global Business Mobility visa category

Maximum stay 

Senior or Specialist Worker

Up to 9 years of stay in any 10-year period 

Graduate Trainee

Up to 5 years of stay in any 6-year period

Expansion Worker

Up to 5 years of stay in any 6-year period

Service Supplier

Up to 5 years of stay in any 6-year period

Secondment Worker

Up to 5 years of stay in any 6-year period

The period of stay on your first UK Global Business Mobility visa depends on several factors:

  • Immigration category
  • Type of work to perform and its duration
  • In some cases – your salary in the UK.

The British government is not interested in foreign workers staying in the country after their job here is done. That’s why the shortest possible period of stay is considered while issuing a visa. For example, if your certificate of sponsorship mentions a particular task that you need to perform, you will have to leave the UK within 14 days after completing it. If you need more time to finish your work, you can apply to extend your UK Global Business Mobility visa.

To learn the exact validity of your UK Global Business Mobility visa, contact Imperial & Legal.

Requirements for a UK Global Business Mobility Visa

To get a UK Global Business Mobility visa, you need to meet all the standard requirements: 

  1. Be older than 18 years old.
  2. Have clean criminal and immigration records and no overdue loans.
  3. Have enough money to support yourself and your family in the UK, and pay an application fee and immigration health surcharge for the whole period of stay.
  4. Be of good health, and be tested negative for tuberculosis.

Another important requirement is a certificate of sponsorship. It must be obtained at least three months before application for a UK Global Business Mobility visa. By this time, the receiving company must obtain a sponsorship licence from the Home Office. If it already has a licence, it must be of an A category.

Who Can I Add to My Application for a UK Global Business Mobility Visa? 

The rules are standard. You can add the following family members to your application:

  1. Spouses and unmarried partners. Note that if you add your partner to the application, you must prove that your relationship is long-term by submitting joint utility bills, etc.
  2. Minor children. If your child is older than 16 years old, you must prove that they are your dependants.

To apply for a UK Global Business Mobility visa most efficiently and to avoid any additional costs, you need legal support. Imperial & Legal’s experienced advisors consider each case individually. With our legal assistance, you will get a UK Global Business Mobility visa in four simple steps.

Contact Imperial & Legal
Timeframe: 1 day
Imperial & Legal specialists are regulated immigration advisors. A consultation can be held face-to-face in an office or remotely via an audio or a video Zoom/Skype call. During the consultation, your advisor will get to know your case, listen to your story and answer all your questions. If you already have a certificate of sponsorship, our experts will start working on your case after signing a contract with you.
Prepare documents
Timeframe: 1–3 weeks
Imperial & Legal immigration advisors act as your official representatives till you get a final decision from the Home Office. Our experts will prepare a list of documents that will be required from you to get a UK Global Business Mobility visa, have them translated into English, draft cover letters and prepare your application. If your employer does not have a sponsorship licence, our experts can help them get it, but in this case, more time will be required.
Submit an application and visit a visa centre
Timeframe: 1 week
When all documents are prepared, our advisors will fill in an online form, pay an application fee and submit an application. Then, you will have to choose the date and time of your visit to one of the UK visa centres to submit biometrics and upload all the necessary documents into the system.
Get your UK Global Business Mobility visa and relocate to the UK
Timeframe: 3–6 weeks
An application for a UK Global Business Mobility visa is processed from 3 to 6 weeks. After your application is approved and you get your visa, you can travel to the UK. Imperial & Legal do not only help you get a visa, but also offer assistance with all the issues concerning relocation to another country, such as searching for a flat or enrolling children into nurseries or schools. Most of our clients come to us later to extend their visas, and apply for ILR or citizenship.

FAQ about UK Global Business Mobility visas

What do I do to get a UK Global Business Mobility visa?

For your visa application to be approved, you must meet all the standard requirements, including age, due diligence, health, etc., and some qualification requirements that differ depending on the chosen immigration category.

The Home Office uses a point-based system to decide on your visa application. To get a visa, you need to score 40 to 60 points. If you have a certificate of sponsorship, you get 20 points automatically. Other 20-40 points are granted for meeting other qualification requirements.  

How many points do I need to get a Senior or Specialist Worker visa and how are they scored?

To obtain a UK Global Business Mobility visa in the Senior or Specialist Worker category, you need to get 60 points. To do this, you must meet the following requirements: get a certificate of sponsorship, have the necessary qualification and have the minimum annual salary. Each requirement ticked earns you 20 points. 

  1. All qualification requirements are considered one by one in the order of priority. If you do not have a certificate of sponsorship, the position you want to occupy in the UK will not be considered. If your job does not require any professional qualification or does not have an occupation code in the UK, your annual salary will not be considered.
  2. Senior or Specialist Worker category is only open to such foreign workers who have the required education and expertise.
  3. Minimum annual salary if it is not calculated by hourly rate amounts to £42,400 before taxes. There are some exceptions for shortage occupations. Contact Imperial & Legal to find out more.

What are the qualification requirements for the Service Supplier category?

To get a UK Global Business Mobility visa in the Service Supplier category, you need to get 40 points (annual salary is not counted for this immigration category):

  1. Certificate of sponsorship – 20 points;
  2. Appropriate qualification for official employment or freelance work – 20 points.

The second requirement is the same as for the Senior or Specialist Worker visa if services are provided through a foreign company with a UK subsidiary. If they come to the UK under an international trade agreement, the Home Office must make sure that an applicant has relevant qualifications for the work they are to perform.

Do all UK Global Business Mobility visa categories require a registered UK subsidiary?

A foreign specialist must be employed by a UK subsidiary to come to the country under the following visa categories: 

  • Senior or Specialist Worker
  • Graduate Trainee
  • Expansion Worker
  • Secondment Worker.

The Service Supplier category does not require a UK subsidiary, especially if it applies to a freelance worker. In this case, it can be a UK-registered company that invites a foreign specialist under one of the international trade agreements.

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