Since 1 January 2023, a new Immigration Skills Charge exemption has been in place for sponsors of certain workers being temporarily transferred to the UK under the Global Business Mobility: Senior or Specialist Worker visa route. This could provide a considerable saving for employers.

What is the Global Business Mobility route?

This visa route opened on 11 April 2022, it consolidated some existing visa routes, including the Intra-company Transfer route, as well as creating new routes. 

The route is split into five visa subcategories, one of which is the 'Senior or Specialist Worker' which enables multi-national employers to transfer staff to the UK on a temporary basis. You can read our earlier blog on the introduction of the route for more information on the different categories.

Who can apply for a Senior or Specialist Worker visa?

Senior or Specialist Workers are senior managers or specialist employees based overseas looking to come to, or stay in the UK to carry out an eligible role at their employer's UK branch. To qualify for this visa, the individual must:

  • be an existing employee of an organisation approved by the Home Office as a sponsor.
  • do a job that's on the list of eligible occupations and be paid at least £42,400 per year or the going rate for the job (whichever is higher).
  • have worked for their employer outside the UK for at least 12-months if their salary is less than £73,900 a year.

It is also possible for graduate trainees to apply.

What is the Immigration Skills Charge?

Employers must pay the Immigration Skills Charge for each worker they sponsor under the Skilled Worker and Global Business Mobility routes. The amount payable depends on:

  • the duration of the proposed employment in the UK
  • the size and type of the organisation sponsoring the worker
  • whether any exemptions apply.

    For more information see UK Government guidance.

    Who will the new exemption apply to?

    Since 1 January 2023, sponsors of certain eligible workers being temporarily transferred to the UK under the Senior or Specialist Worker route have been exempt from paying the charge. The exemption applies to workers who:

    • are EU nationals (excluding nationals of Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland), or are Latvian non-citizens;
    • have been employed by an entity established in the EU, for a minimum of 1 year (6 months for trainees)
    • do not normally reside in the UK; and
    • will be temporarily transferred to a UK company within the same organisation as their original EU established employer for no more than 36 months.

    What are the benefits to employers?

    In some cases, the exemption could provide a considerable cost saving when compared to the Skilled Worker route. 

    Depending on the size of your organisation and the length of the transfer, the exemption could potentially save up to £3,000 over a 36-month period, compared to the Skilled Worker route. The main downside, however, of using the Senior of Specialist Worker route is that it is a temporary visa route. Time spent in the UK under this route does not count towards settlement. Therefore, before deciding to use this route (to make the cost saving) you would want to ensure that you don't need the flexibility for the person to settle in the UK. 

    If you do not currently have a Senior or Specialist Worker category on your sponsor licence, you may want to consider applying to add it in order to benefit from the cost savings. 

    More information

    For more information on any of the issues discussed in this blog, please contact Elaine McIlroy or Erin McLafferty.

    Workbox by Brodies users can also find more information on the Global Business Mobility Visa Route page. If you would like to find out more about Workbox, please contact our Workbox team.