Just when businesses became comfortably familiar with the visa application routes needed to bring overseas workers to the UK, the rulebook is ripped up and replaced with a new system so that they are, amidst busy workloads, thrown into confusion as to how best to proceed. Whilst the intention behind the new immigration rules is to address mobility shortfalls for businesses, the overhaul will undoubtedly cause some stalling for those attempting to interpret them in preparation of the relevant applications.
As with all new introductions to the immigration system, approaching a new application can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand they can be confusing and frustratingly vague. On the other hand, these new channels indicate a positive invitation for the Government to facilitate mobilisation of workers to the UK and it is a good time for businesses to consider taking up those opportunities. Careful consideration of all the requirements for the appropriate category will be vital and submitting the correct information and documents will be more sensitive when an immigration category is new and not yet widely tested.
What are the five new categories of the Global Business Mobility Visa?
April 2022 saw the introduction of the Global Business Mobility visa which establishes five new pathways for overseas businesses seeking to expand into the UK. They are the following:
- Senior or Specialist Worker, allowing the Applicant to come to or stay in the UK to do an eligible job at the employer’s UK branch.
- Graduate Trainee, being part of a graduate training programme.
- Secondment Worker, where the overseas employer is transferring you to the UK to do an eligible job for a different organisation.
- Service Supplier, if you have a contract to provide services for a UK company, either as an employee for an overseas company or a self-employed professional based overseas.
- UK Expansion Worker, allowing you to come to the UK to set up a branch of an overseas business that has not started trading in the UK yet.
The requirements that are necessary to meet will depend on which category you want to apply for and will relate to appropriate skill, salary, length of time you have been employed by the overseas firm and whether the assignment is temporary.
Does the business sponsoring the Applicant have a Sponsorship Licence?
It is important to note that all categories will require the business to have first obtained a Sponsorship Licence before the Applicant can apply under any of the above categories. This is an entirely separate process in itself and it is highly recommended that those business that have not yet acquired a Sponsorship Licence make that application promptly in preparation of sponsoring Applicants under any of the above categories.
Will the business need a UK presence?
This question will depend on which category the Applicant is applying under, with the first two being aimed at those businesses with a UK presence, the last two being aimed at those with no UK presence and the middle category (Secondment) being a potential for both.
The most significant changes in the Global Business Mobility Visa
Many may be wondering why the Government has decided to introduce these changes. They are essentially a positive response to the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee. This includes allowing a Sponsor to send a large team of specialist expansion workers, as opposed to the strict limitation of only one Sole Representative being allowed under the previous rules. This will be very liberating for many businesses who realistically rely on the qualities of a team, rather than just one individual.
The former Intra-Company transfer that many businesses were familiar with has been replaced by the Senior and Specialist Workers routes.
An exciting new development will also allow Secondments in high value import and export deals to oversee substantial investments. This allows businesses to be actively involved and physically present to oversee projects, obtain experience and also strengthen their rapport with overseas firms.
One important change for Applicants to be aware of is that, although they can be joined by their partner and children, these new routes will not automatically lead to settlement. However, once the worker is in the UK, there may be other immigration categories into which they can switch which will allow them to obtain settlement.
What do businesses do if their workers have visas under the old immigration rules?
The Government has introduced transitional guidelines for those existing sponsored categories which now need to transfer to the Global Business Mobility categories. It is essential that those Sponsors and visa holders seek professional advice rather than leaving these to lapse and become void.
The Visa Application Process
As with any new visa route, these Applications will all be entering unchartered territory with little precedents to gauge what the Home Office are expecting. Although there is an official guidance that has now been published, managing immigration applications are usually a matter of practice and experience. This is almost certainly a positive opportunity for businesses to expand and restructure, however, to best take advantage of that opportunity it is advisable to consult with a professional.
This article is provided by Burlingtons for general information only. It is not intended to be and cannot be relied upon as legal advice or otherwise. If you would like to discuss any of the matters covered in this article, please contact Sarah Khawaja or write to us using the contact form below.