On 15 March 2022, the UK Government announced details of the new Global Business Mobility visa route, which is expected to open on 11 April 2022.

What is the Global Business Mobility ('GBM') route?

The GBM route is a new visa category which consolidates some of the existing visa routes in place together with new routes which seek to assist overseas businesses seeking to establish a presence in, or transfer staff to, the UK for specific business purposes.

Which individuals are eligible?

The route is split in to five subcategories below:

  • Senior or Specialist Worker – This route is for senior managers or specialist employees who are being assigned to a UK business linked to their employer overseas. It replaces the Intra-Company Transfer route.
  • Graduate Trainee – This is for workers on a graduate training course leading to a senior management or specialist position and who are required to do a work placement in the UK. This route replaces the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route.
  • UK Expansion Worker – This route is for senior managers or specialist employees who are being assigned to the UK to undertake work related to a business’s expansion to the UK. It replaces the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business route. UK expansion workers now require to be sponsored and are subject to minimum skills and salary requirements.
  • Service Supplier – This route is for contractual service suppliers employed by an overseas service provider and self-employed independent professionals based overseas, who need to undertake an assignment in the UK to provide services covered by one of the UK’s international trade commitments. It replaces the provisions contained in the Temporary Work – International Agreement relating to contract service suppliers and independent professionals.
  • Secondment Worker – This route is for workers being seconded to the UK as part of a high-value contract or investment by their employer overseas. This is a new route under the UK immigration rules as international secondments were previously prohibited.

All of the above subcategories will be: 

  • temporary routes and therefore, there will be no requirement to evidence knowledge of English language. However, individuals can bring certain dependants with them to the UK and switch from this route from inside the UK to other more permanent visa routes if they qualify.
  • subject to various minimum skills and salary requirements (which is a new requirement for UK Expansion Workers) and most employees being sent to the UK under the GBM route must usually have worked for their overseas employer for a specific period before qualifying.

What do employers need to do to use the route?

To have an employee work in the UK under any of the GBM routes, the UK employer (or the company or joint venture receiving the secondee, as the case may be) must have a sponsor licence.

In the case of UK expansion workers, the requirement to have a sponsor licence is a new requirement and the sponsor licence will be granted with a 'provisional rating'. It will also be possible for the expansion worker themselves to undertake the mandatory role of Authorising Officer (which is the person responsible for the compliance aspects of the sponsor licence). This is to take into account the fact that the company in question will not already have an established UK company that can apply for a sponsor licence.

What are the benefits for employers?

While the new GBM route does provide more options for overseas businesses to send workers and secondees to the UK, it may make it more difficult for some businesses to send overseas workers to the UK to set up a UK Company. UK expansion workers now require to be sponsored and are subject to minimum skills and salary requirements. In addition, this route can only lead to a grant of leave for 1 year (which can be extended to 2 years) whereas currently this visa could have provided 5 years residence in the UK.

More information

You can also read our blog on the new High Potential Individual and Scale-up visas here.

We are waiting for further policy information on this new route, however for now, further details on the changes to the rules can be found in the Statement of Changes and Explanatory Memorandum.

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


Erin McLafferty