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What Do We Know About the New 2022 Global Mobility Route?

The new Global Mobility Route, which will be launched in Spring 2022, is intended to change the way that overseas businesses transfer existing staff to the UK. The new route will bring together the Intra-company Transfer visa with other existing schemes such as the Sole Representative visa and the International Agreement visa. It will work for overseas businesses with a presence already in the UK and overseas businesses with no presence in the UK. The intention of the new scheme is to enable overseas businesses to temporarily send employees to the UK for a specific corporate purpose where it cannot be undertaken by a worker already resident in the UK.

Why has the Global Mobility Route been created?

At the end of August 2021, the Home Office published a policy paper entitled ‘The UK’s points-based immigration system: sponsorship roadmap’. Within this sponsorship roadmap, the Home Office briefly mentioned a new Global Mobility route; they stated, “The new Global Business Mobility route for overseas businesses seeking to establish a presence here or transfer staff to the UK will be launched in Spring 2022 under the existing sponsorship system. Improvements will be made in line with the wider sponsorship transformation project outlined in this document. The new sponsorship system will make it easier for overseas businesses to assign and manage workers coming to the UK under the Global Business Mobility route”. In this article, we will explain what is known so far about the new 2022 Global Mobility Route.

Who will be able to apply for a Global Mobility visa?

The exact rules, requirements, and process for the new Global Mobility visa are yet to be confirmed and announced by the Home Office, however, much can be inferred by the guidance issued by the MAC’s report on recommended changes to the ICT visa route.

The new Global Mobility visa will be made available to:

For overseas businesses with a branch or subsidiary in the UK

  • Those with specialist skills required by the UK entity for a specific purpose
  • Senior executives who need to be transferred to a UK branch or subsidiary
  • Graduate trainees on a structured training programme

From businesses without a presence in the UK

  • Senior or specialist staff on assignment in connection with the expansion by an overseas business into the UK
  • Those on secondment to a UK business for specific purposes
  • Service suppliers who need to enter the UK to provide a service that is part of a UK trade agreement.

Are there any new aspects to the Global Mobility visa?

While the new scheme is something of an amalgamation of existing business-related visa schemes, there are some innovations:

  1. Whereas the existing Representative of an Overseas Business visa only allows one Representative to come to the UK, under a new ‘team subsidiary’ (TS) pathway which will be trialled by the Home Office, it will be possible for more than one (potentially up to five) to apply. This will include one senior executive and additional team members. In practice, this makes sense given the skills and volume of activities involved in setting up a new business entity. It remains to be seen, however, if overseas businesses will need to acquire sponsorship, and if so, how?
  1. Under the existing visitor visa rules, it is possible for a staff member to be seconded to the UK from overseas business for a short period. Under the new secondment pathway, it is expected that applicants will need to show they are coming to the UK for a specific and eligible purpose (e.g., in relation to high-value exports). It remains to be seen how the Home Office will interpret the recommendations of the MAC when it comes to the secondment pathway and whether a minimum value will be attached to the purpose of the secondment.
  1. It is possible that, unlike with the existing ICT visa scheme, those who qualify as a ‘Senior or Specialist Worker’ within the Global Business Mobility visa route will have a direct route to permanent settlement. Under the present rules, the ICT visa does not provide a direct route to settlement, meaning that visa holders need to switch to a different visa type to work towards indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after five years.
  1. It is expected that those applying under the graduate pathway will need to meet a minimum income requirement of £20,480 rather than the existing requirement of £23,000 or 70% of the ‘going rate’ of the job. As such, while this is not a substantial change, this brings the salary threshold in line with the existing Skilled Worker visa rules for those who are under 26, a recent graduate, or in professional training.
  1. The Sole Representative visa currently allows holders to come to the UK for up to three years, after which a further two-year extension can be applied for. It is expected this may be capped at two years on the basis that it should take no longer than this to establish a business in the UK. The MAC report on this matter stated, “Allowing people to stay for more than two years raises the concern that the route could be abused as a way for people to obtain UK residence and work authorisation, despite not making progress towards setting up a viable business.”

Final words

While some may take the view that the new Global Mobility Route for 2022 is simply an amalgamation of existing related schemes (and it is to an extent), if done well, it may provide greater flexibility for business in the UK and overseas where needed. It also represents an opportunity to simplify and streamline the existing system. The Home Office is still working on the final details of the scheme; however, it is hoped that the new rules and processes will be published early next year, allowing businesses to prepare for a Spring 2022 launch.

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