The UK’s new global business mobility visa explained
In autumn last year, the UK government announced a Global Business Mobility (GBM) visa as part of the UK’s new plan to attract global talent with a focus on “high-skilled migration”.
According to a British Home Office presentation, immigration routes that may once have worked for business no longer do, as they simply haven’t evolved; and this is where the new GBM route comes in, modernising the current business immigration routes to provide a more cohesive and relevant system.
Designed as a way for foreign firms to transfer staff to the UK, the visa is set to commence in spring 2022. So, what exactly does the visa offer international businesses and how exciting is it?
Simply put, the global business mobility visa will enable employers who want to transfer staff to the UK from overseas or international businesses or who want to set up a UK branch of their business and send an overseas worker to the UK to run it.
Five pathways – global business mobility visa
The visa will offer five pathways. There are three pathways (1, 2 below) for overseas companies who already have a UK presence, and two (3, 4, 5 below) for those businesses with no UK presence.
1. Senior or specialist worker to meet specific business needs – for workers with expert skills or senior execs that are required in the UK branch of an overseas business. The eligibility requirements for this are still to be ironed out.
2. Graduate trainee as part of a training programme – the employee will be on a placement in the UK branch of the business as part of a structured training programme.
3. Secondment worker to UK firms in high-value contracts or investments – on secondment for specific purposes, to oversee a substantial investment for example.
4. Service supplier to the UK in line with UK trade agreements – allows workers travelling to the UK to deliver a service in line with a UK trade commitment.
5. UK expansion worker to establish a UK presence – for any business without a UK presence, this allows them to send specialist workers on assignment to drive expansion into the UK. Importantly, this allows businesses to send a team over, rather than the previously allowed individual.
The visa’s main criteria will be based on existing UK immigration principles meaning that all roles will need to be sponsored by the employer, and jobs will need to meet the appropriate skill and salary thresholds; all employees must reach a minimum length of employment with the company overseas; and all assignments will be temporary but flexible.
As well as the launch of the Global Business Mobility visa for highly skilled migrants, the Home Office plans to overhaul the sponsorship process to help businesses access overseas talent quickly and effectively. The Sponsorship Roadmap sets out key reforms the government intends to introduce to the sponsorship system in 2022 and beyond.