Is the UK open for business?

Is the UK open for business?

20th May 2022, 12:01 pm

11 April 2022 saw the introduction of new Global Business Mobility (GBM) routes into the UK’s immigration system. GBM is a new set of sponsored routes to assist overseas businesses with establishing a presence in, or transferring workers to, the UK.

The GBM routes replace previous business mobility provisions such as the Intra-Company Transfer route, representative of an overseas business and aspects of the Temporary Work – International Agreement route. It sees the introduction of five new immigration routes, summarised below.

Senior or Specialist Worker

This route replaces the Intra-Company Transfer Long-term Staff provision, which multinationals relied on to transfer existing workers to the UK for a temporary period of time.

The inclusion of this category under the GBM has resulted in a few changes which employers should be aware of. The general salary threshold has increased to £42,400 gross per annum (or the going rate under the role, if higher). Another change is that those granted permission to enter or remain from 11 April 2022 will no longer be able to undertake supplementary employment.

The requirement that workers must have been with the same sponsor group overseas for 12 months (unless they are a high earner earning at least £73,900 gross per annum) continues to apply, as do the limitations in relation to how long workers can stay in the UK (Senior or Specialist Workers can typically spend up to 5 years in any 6-year period in the UK).

Graduate Trainee

This replaces the Graduate Trainee provision of the former Intra-Company Transfer category of the Immigration Rules.

The inclusion of this category under the GBM sees a slight increase to the general salary threshold to £23,100 gross per annum (or 70% of the going rate, if higher), and like Senior or Specialist Workers, Graduate Trainees are no longer permitted to undertake supplementary work. UKVI have removed the limit of only being able to assign 20 Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) each year. Apart from a this, changes to for graduate trainee rules are little more than a rebrand.

UK Expansion Worker

A shiny new category? Well, kind of. This route replaces the Representative of an Overseas Business route. The new Appendix Global Business Mobility Routes provides the following definition:

The Global Business Mobility – UK Expansion Worker route is for overseas workers who are undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK, where the worker is a senior manager or specialist employee and is being assigned to the UK to undertake work related to a business’s expansion to the UK.

Unlike its predecessor, workers seeking permission to enter as UK Expansion Workers will need a Certificate of Sponsorship, so will need a licensed sponsor. The sponsor will need to be a branch or wholly owned subsidiary of an established overseas business, and to succeed with a UK Expansion Worker application, the business must not be trading in the UK.

A company holding a UK Expansion Worker sponsor licence will be able to sponsor up to 5 UK Expansion Workers at any one time, and each worker will need to be paid at least £42,400 (or the going rate under Appendix Skilled Occupations). Similar to the Senior or Specialist Worker route, UK Expansion Workers must normally have worked for the sponsor group for at least 12 months.

Service Supplier

The Service Supplier is a rebrand for those previously sponsored as Contractual Service Suppliers or Self-employed Independent Professionals under the Temporary Work – International Agreement category. It is defined as follows:

The Global Business Mobility – Service Supplier route is for overseas workers who are undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK, where the worker is either a contractual service supplier employed by an overseas service provider or a self-employed independent professional based overseas, and they need to undertake an assignment in the UK to provide services covered by one of the UK’s international trade agreements.

Regardless of which option is relied upon, as was the case under the International Agreement category it replaces, the worker must have worked for the organisation overseas for 12 months, the UK organisation must sponsor the worker, and the UK and overseas organisations must have a genuine contract which must be covered by a UK international trade agreement and which must have been approved by the Home Office.

Secondment Worker

This final GBM category comes out of left-field, and we feel it is unlikely to be much-used.

A Secondment Worker is defined as follows:

The Global Business Mobility – Secondment Worker route is for overseas workers who are undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK, where the worker is being seconded to the UK as part of a high value contract or investment by their employer overseas.

So what counts as high value? GBM guidance confirms:

For the Secondment Worker route, there must exist an investment or contract for goods or services between you and an overseas business worth at least £10 million per year and no less than £50 million overall. This means that if the duration of the contract is less than 5 years, it must be valued at least £50 million. If the contract is 5 years or more, it must be worth at least £10 million per year. If the contract has no specified end date, it must be worth at least £50 million over the first five years.

Do Existing Sponsors need to do anything?

Organisations that held a sponsor licence under the former provisions should have received correspondence from UKVI which confirms that, for the routes that are replacing former categories, the new route will be added to their existing licence from 11 April 2022. The Register of Worker and Temporary Worker licensed sponsors has already been updated; ICT licence holders now hold a Global Business Mobility: Senior or Specialist Worker / Graduate Trainee licence.

Aside from these changes, we have noticed in recent weeks that the Home Office is contacting sponsors who haven’t logged into the Sponsor Management System for the past 12 months, reminding them that regular review is essential. We recommend that sponsors log in at least once a month to avoid these checks being made.

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