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Service Supplier Visa UK

The UK Service Supplier Visa is part of the Global Business Mobility route that allows overseas service providers to send staff to work in the UK on a temporary basis.

Contact our immigration lawyers for a free telephone consultation on 020 3744 2797 or complete our enquiry form to discuss your UK Service Supplier visa application.

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What is the UK Service Supplier Visa?

The UK Service Supplier Visa allows overseas service providers to send staff to work in the UK on a temporary basis to fulfil a contract to supply services as part of a UK international trade agreement. The UK Service Supplier Visa is one of 5 categories under the new Global Business Mobility visa program, which opened on 11th April 2022. The Global Business Mobility visa scheme was introduced to make doing business in the UK easier for overseas organisations. The new Service Supplier Visa replaces the old International Agreement visa used for contractual service suppliers and self-employed professionals.

Some important points to bear in mind about the UK Service Supplier Visa include:

  • The applicants must be sponsored by a UK business before they can apply
  • The overseas employer must have a contract with a UK business that is covered by a valid international trade agreement
  • Those granted a UK Service Supplier Visa are permitted to work (paid or voluntary), study, and travel in and out of the UK freely
  • The Service Supplier Visa does not provide a route to settlement / ILR in the UK. Service Supplier Visa holders can, however, apply to switch to a different type of visa that leads to ILR
  • Service Supplier Visa holders are permitted to bring their dependant family members with them to the UK; this includes the visa holder’s spouse and children
  • The Service Supplier Visa holders can stay in the UK initially for up to 6 or 12 months (depending on the trade agreement under which services are being provided in the UK). This can be further extended

UK Service Supplier Visa requirements

Under the Service Supplier Visa rules, applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • be an employee of an overseas organisation or a self-employed service provider that is based overseas
  • fulfilling a contract under a valid international trade agreement
  • meet the nationality or residence requirements required under the international trade agreement
  • hold a Certificate of Sponsorship from a UK sponsor
  • meet the 12-month employment requirement (see below for more details)
  • be sponsored for an eligible role or have the relevant qualifications/skills for the job being performed in the UK
  • have enough funds in their bank account to support themselves during their first month in the UK

International trade agreement contract requirements

International trade agreements exist to make it easier to trade between 2 or more nations. The UK has several international trade agreements with other countries, including EU and non-EU countries. A Service Supplier visa will only be granted where an employee of an overseas service supplier (or a self-employed person) is coming to the UK to provide services as part of a current UK international trade agreement.

Applicants must also meet the nationality requirements applicable to the specific trade agreement under which they are coming to the UK. In many cases, they must be a national of the country in which the service provider is based. In some limited cases, it may be possible for a person to apply if they are a permanent resident of the country where the service provider is based.

Sponsorship requirements

Service Supplier Visa applicants are required to provide evidence of a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) issued by their UK sponsor. This is the business for whom they are providing services in the UK. Sponsors must have an A-rated sponsorship licence specifically for the Global Business Mobility Service Supplier scheme. The CoS must have been granted within 3 months of the Service Supplier Visa application.

List of eligible occupations

Service Supplier Visa applicants must either have an eligible job on the list of eligible occupations1 or relevant qualifications and experience. We recommend that you ask your employer for the standard occupation code (SOC) for your sponsored role and check this is on the official list of eligible occupations.

If it is not, you may still be able to apply if you have a bachelor’s degree or higher or a technical qualification equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. Those without a job on the eligible occupation list must have:

  • 3 years of professional experience relevant to the service they will be providing in the UK (for employees)
  • 6 years of professional experience for those who are self-employed

Applicants should note that some occupations have different requirements; including those providing services covering:

  • advertising or translation
  • chef de cuisine
  • entertainment services (excluding audio-visual services under the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement)
  • fashion and modelling
  • management consulting services
  • technical testing and analysis

The Home Office guidance2 provides more details for applicants with any of these roles.

Financial requirements

Service Supplier applicants do not need to meet a minimum salary requirement. They must have, however, at least £1,270 in their bank account to support themselves for their first month in the UK (the funds must have been held by the applicant for 28 days or more prior to the date of application).

Where a Service Supplier visa applicant has been in the UK for 12 months or more, the support funds requirement may not apply. Alternatively, sponsors may cover these costs (this should be stated on the CoS).

UK Service Supplier Visa required documents

The Home Office will request a number of documents, these include (please note this list is not exhaustive):

  • Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) unique reference number
  • current valid passport
  • job title and annual salary details
  • standard occupational code (SOC)
  • details of the employer
  • details of the UK based sponsor (i.e. their company name and sponsor licence number)
  • evidence of at least £1,270 in support funds held for at least 28 days (e.g. a bank statement). If the sponsor is covering these costs, the CoS must state this.
  • proof of relationship with the applicant’s dependant partner and/or children if they will be included on the main application (e.g. marriage or civil partnership certificate and birth certificate)
  • tuberculosis test results (if from a TB listed country)

How to apply for a Service Supplier Visa

  1. Ensure you have your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from your UK sponsor
  2. Complete the Service Supplier Visa application online
  3. Pay any required application fees (please see below for more details)
  4. Provide valid evidence of your identity – either by booking and attending a biometric appointment with a visa application centre (VAC) or using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ mobile phone app.
  5. Upload any documents requested by the Home Office
  6. Attend an interview if you are required to do so – not all applicants need to do this. If you are asked to attend an interview, be reassured that this is normal and is intended to allow the Home Office to review your eligibility before a final decision is made.

Service Supplier Visa application fees

Service Supplier Visa application fee is £259 per person. Other costs include a Biometric fee of £19.20 and the Immigration healthcare surcharge: of £624 (this allows the applicants access to the National Health Service while in the UK).

How long can you stay with a Service Supplier Visa?

A Service Supplier Visa is normally granted for up to 6 or 12 months (depending on the international trade agreement). The maximum amount of time you can stay in the UK on a Service Supplier visa is 6 or 12 months. If you have reached this maximum time, you can either apply for a different type of visa or apply for a new Service Supplier visa from outside the UK. If you apply for a new Service Supplier Visa from outside of the UK, you will need to ensure you are within the rule that states you can stay for a maximum of 5 years in any 6 year period if you have spent time on any of the following visas:

Service Supplier Visa extension

You can extend your Service Supplier Visa within the UK (before your visa expires) but only within the 6 or 12-month maximum as outlined above. You must have the same job you held when you were previously granted your visa (i.e. the same occupation code and employer).

Change jobs/employers on a Service Supplier Visa?

It is possible to change employers as a Service Supplier Visa holder, but you will need to apply for a ‘change of employment’ and gain approval from the Home Office.

A change of employment is also needed if you remain with your current employer but move to a different occupation code.

If you are moving to a new job with the same employer and occupation code, you do not need to request a change of employment.

To change employment, you will need to submit a new application, prove your identity, pay the applicable fees, and provide details of your new CoS.

While your change of employment application is being processed, you can stay in the UK and work for your existing employer.

Service Supplier Visa dependent visa

As a Service Supplier worker, your dependant family members can join you in the UK. Dependant family members include:

  • husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner (if unmarried, you must have been in a relationship with your partner for at least 2 years)
  • child/ren under the age of 18
  • child/ren over the age of 18 if they are dependant on you and not living a fully independent life.

Your family members will need to submit their own application, either as your partner or child, if applying from outside the UK. Furthermore, each dependant needs to prove their identity, pay the application fees, and submit any documents required to the Home Office.

UK Service Supplier Visa to ILR

There is no direct route for UK Service Supplier Visa holders to gain indefinite leave to remain (ILR). They can, however, choose to switch to an ILR qualifying visa such as the:

Qualifying visa holders must normally be living in the UK for at least 5 years to apply for ILR. For some visas, including the Global Talent visa, this qualifying period is 3 years. It is then possible to apply for British citizenship 1 year after gaining ILR.

References:

1 GOV.UK: Global Business Mobility: eligible occupations and codes

2 GOV.UK: Service Supplier visa

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"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

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