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The UK Updates Its Business Visa System

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The UK has announced that it is going to introduce a new visa that will cover all basic business needs for international relations. The Global Business Mobility visa is set to kick off in spring 2022.

“Immigration routes that may once have worked for business, no longer do; they have not evolved in tandem with businesses,” admitted the Home Office at a briefing on the reform. The new visa is supposed to provide new solutions to these issues. The Global Business Mobility visa will substitute a number of existing visas while adding new options. Actually, it can be considered a fully-fledged and multifunctional ‘business visa’ which allows its owner to make any business-related trips.

It was announced that the Global Business Mobility visa will be a non-settlement visa. It means that it does not lead to British citizenship. However, the period spent on this visa in the UK can be added to ten years of residence in the country that qualify for an indefinite leave to remain.

Options of the New Visa

It is said that the Global Business Mobility visa will be divided into five categories. They are given below with equivalents that the UK immigration system has at the moment.

New categoryExisting visa
A leading specialist required for specific issuesIntra-Company Transfer
A trainee or an employee arriving for aprofessional developmentIntra-Company Graduate Trainee visa
An employee of a partner company who comes to accompany and perform high-value contractsVisitor visa (partially)
A trade representative who makes dealsVisitor visa (partially)
An employee engaged in the development of a representative office of a foreign company in the UKRepresentative of an Overseas Business visa

Intra-Company and Intra-Company Graduate visas will perhaps undergo minimal changes. But it will be a huge step forward for Representative of an Overseas Business visa. Currently, only a top manager of a company, delegated to open an office in the UK, can apply for it. That is why it is also often called a ‘sole representative visa’. However, the presence of several representatives with decision-making powers is often dictated by circumstances. And the new visa will provide for this.

This ‘business visa’ is also crucial for partnerships with foreign clients. Nowadays, such relationships can be built through a visitor visa. However, it is not designed for business, and therefore it imposes many restrictions that hinder the productive flow of business.

It should be noted that while there are no statements, it is not clear whether the existing visas, duplicating the new one, will be cancelled, or they will coexist. Nevertheless, as practice shows, the first option is more likely.

Application Requirements

A candidate will have to meet several requirements to obtain a Global Business Mobility visa. They are still under development, so there are only general conditions without any specifics on the timeline and fees.

There are preliminary requirements for obtaining a new business visa to the UK:

  • Sponsorship by a receiving or sending company
  • An appropriate skills level
  • Minimum salary
  • A minimum period of employment in a receiving or sending company.

It is also known that the first two visa sub-categories that duplicate Intra-Company and Intra-Company Graduate visas require that there is an official branch in the UK. Accordingly, it will be a UK company that will issue a certificate of sponsorship as a receiving party.

As for the other three sub-categories, there are no such requirements, for obvious reasons. A representative of an overseas business, a foreign partner, or a founder of a new branch cannot or is not obliged to have a registered legal entity in the UK. That is why sponsorship will be provided by a foreign organisation that sends its employee on a business trip.

It is not yet clear how the Home Office will request a certificate of sponsorship from foreign companies. Moreover, that is not the only blind spot in the new visa’s operation. Imperial & Legal experts are closely monitoring changes in immigration law and will let you know whenever any new details are known.

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