on May 25, 2022
Read Time: 10 Minutes
News of the UK Government’s introduction of a new Global Business Mobility (GBM) visa was announced in the 2021 Budget speech of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak.
The new visa route has been conceived to help overseas businesses in their efforts to establish a presence in the UK, or to transfer their staff to a UK branch that the business may already have. In effect, the new GBM visa consolidates the Intra-company Transfer visa, the Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa, the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa, and the Temporary Work – International Agreement visa, into a single route.
The Home Office has said that the new Global Business Mobility visa category will launch in April 2022 – but what else do we know about this route in the run-up to it opening to applications?
Applications for the Global Business Mobility visa will be open to overseas businesses that wish to send their employees temporarily to the UK.
It is important to understand that this route is specifically aimed at businesses from outside of the UK.If you are a UK business that wishes to recruit a migrant worker in order to fill a vacancy in the UK, the Skilled Worker visa route will remain available for this purpose.
Some confusion has already arisen over exactly who the UK Government is targeting with its new GBM visa category. The name sounding similar to that of the current Global Talent visa, for instance, has prompted some people to ask whether only ‘exceptional’ individuals or prize winners will be permitted to apply for this visa.
While much remains unknown, the early indications are that the Global Business Mobility visa will not be as restrictive as the Global Talent visa with regard to the candidates that it accepts.
The Global Talent visa category is seen as somewhat exclusive – and it can be difficult to prove that a particular applicant for the visa shows ‘exceptional’ promise or can be regarded as a leader in their field. By comparison, it seems that the GBM visa category will target foreign businesses with a UK branch or subsidiary, as well as international companies interested in establishing a UK base.
If, then, you are an organisation from outside the UK with an interest in transferring employees to the UK, or establishing a UK branch of your business and sending someone from your existing team to help accomplish this, this could be the visa route for you. This is provided, of course, that the worker you send meets the eligibility criteria once this is confirmed by the UK Government.
There have also been questions as to whether the Global Business Mobility visa will directly replace the Intra-company Transfer visa or the Sole Representative visa. As far as we understand, both visa categories are likely to sit within the broader Global Business Mobility visa route but the existing Visa routes will cease to exist. Those seeking to apply under these routes must do by 10 April 2022.
The Government has said about the GBM visa that businesses from outside of the UK will be able to use it to set up a presence in the UK, which is much like how the Sole Representative visa is currently used. This is not to suggest, however, that the GBM visa’s terms and requirements will exactly match those of the Sole Representative visa.
Indeed, there are hopes that when the GBM visa category does launch, the Government will follow a recommendation to no longer restrict the Sole Representative route to just one overseas-based employee being permitted to come to the UK on the visa in order to establish a branch of the foreign parent company in the UK.
It has been suggested that entry clearance should be granted to a team of employees from overseas, with one member of that team satisfying the eligibility requirements for the Sole Representative visa, and as many as four other employees able to accompany them, subject to them fulfilling the Skilled Worker visa eligibility criteria.
The Global Business Mobility visa route is set to cater to five different categories of worker, reflecting the varying natures of such workers’ assignments in the UK:
All applicants for the Global Business Mobility visa will be expected to satisfy the following requirements:
With regard to what would constitute the “appropriate skill level” for the GBM visa, this was yet to be confirmed at the time of typing. In the case of the existing Intra-company Transfer visa, the required skill level is RQF Level 6 – in other words, jobs that typically require a degree level of education.
Candidates for the Skilled Worker visa, however, are only required to reach the threshold of RQF Level 3, which refers to jobs for which an A-level standard of education is usually needed. It will therefore be fascinating to see what standard is ultimately demanded of applicants for the new GBM visa category.
There is not expected to be any English language requirement for those applying for the Global Business Mobility visa.
So far, we know the following about the five sub-routes that the UK Government has set out for the new Global Business Mobility visa category:
In September 2020, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) was commissioned by the Home Secretary to carry out a study of the UK’s Intra-company Transfer visa routes. The MAC then published its findings in a 116-page report in October 2021.
It is expected that the Government will take some time to consider the report, which may inform its thinking on the new GBM visa category. However, with that spring 2022 launch quickly looming, there isn’t much time remaining for the Government to finalise its plans and set out to businesses what the exact requirements of the new visa route will be.
On page 83 of the report, the MAC states: “The Global Business Mobility route will include the existing provisions for intra-company transferees, subject to this report’s recommendations; the existing arrangements implementing the UK’s trade commitments in respect of contractual service suppliers and independent professionals; any new provision to accommodate import and export-related secondments; and finally (and most importantly for this section), any arrangements for employees of an overseas business assigned to the UK to establish a branch or subsidiary of that business. Existing rules which restrict the route to a single representative per sending business will be relaxed depending on, for example, the size of the investment in the UK.”
At the time of typing, we were yet to hear further details from the UK Government about the Global Business Mobility visa route, including the exact requirements that applicants will be expected to meet. Given the previously proposed spring 2022 launch date, we will surely learn more soon.
In the meantime, overseas businesses – including those that both do and do not presently have a UK presence – are welcome to contact our own immigration solicitors for advice and guidance related to their situation. As soon as we learn more about this new visa category, we will be in a position to provide more suitably tailored advice to would-to applicants.
The impending launch of the Global Business Mobility visa route is just one more milestone in the reformation of the UK’s immigration system after the country’s departure from the European Union.
As the GBM visa and other bespoke routes for highly skilled migrants come on stream, the Home Office is considering how it can make the broader UK immigration system easier to understand and navigate for users. The department has published a “sponsorship roadmap”, for example, to set out how it intends to revamp the sponsorship system during 2022 and beyond, so that businesses can more easily access the foreign talent they require in order to achieve their objectives.
For the latest information and tailored advice on your own circumstances and needs as a business or individual from our award-winning immigration solicitors in central London, please do not hesitate to call Cranbrook Legal today, on 0208 215 0053.