A Guide to the Service Supplier Visa Under the Global Business Mobility Route banner


A Guide to the Service Supplier Visa Under the Global Business Mobility Route

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UK immigration solicitors and business owners, from SMEs to OMBs to multinationals, are all still trying to get their heads around the closure of the intra company transfer visa and the sole representative visa on the 11 April 2022 and the introduction of the global business mobility visa and the new five business routes into the UK.

In this blog, our business immigration solicitors assess the service supplier visa under the global business mobility route and consider if it can help UK employers address the skills shortage.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For advice on service supplier visas and best business and work immigration routes call the immigration team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

The service supplier visa is a sponsored route

For UK employers the first important point to note is that the service supplier visa is a sponsored route. Therefore,  a UK employer needs a Home Office issued sponsor licence to sponsor workers to gain entry clearance on a service supplier visa.

The sponsorship requirement has confused some employers because there is no separate sponsor licence to sponsor service supplier visa applicants. Instead, employers need a sponsor licence to sponsor temporary workers.

Service supplier visa sponsorship involves:

  • Applying for a sponsor licence or extending your current sponsor licence that allows your business to sponsor skilled worker visa holders to also cover temporary workers.
  • Ensuring your business is ready for a sponsor licence and has the management systems in place.
  • Appointing key personnel to manage the sponsor licence.
  • Training your key personnel on meeting sponsor licence reporting and recording duties to minimise the risk of your sponsor licence being revoked or suspended.

 Why is the service supplier route part of the global business mobility visa?

The service supplier route forms part of the global business mobility visa as it is one of five routes that allows for overseas businesses who need to temporarily send workers to the UK for a specific purpose that cannot be done by a settled worker.

The service supplier route replaces the International Agreement route for contractual service suppliers and independent professionals.

What are the eligibility criteria for a service supplier visa?

An applicant can apply to the Home Office for a service supplier visa if :

  • They have a contract to provide services for a UK company. They can either be an employee of an overseas business or a self-employed professional service provider who is based overseas.
  • The applicant has worked for their employer for at least twelve months outside the UK or has at least twelve months of professional experience as a self-employed person.
  • The contract to provide services to a UK company is covered by a valid international trade agreement.
  • The job is an eligible job or the applicant has relevant qualifications and experience.
  • The applicant has been allocated a certificate of sponsorship from the UK sponsor.
  • The applicant can meet the maintenance requirement and pay the immigration health surcharge as well as the visa application fee.

How long can a worker stay in the UK on the service supplier visa?

The service supplier visa is intended as a temporary work visa. Sponsorship Licence lawyers say the immigration rules state the length of stay and entry clearance is dependant on the type of trade agreement the visa holder is providing services under.

A service supplier visa worker can stay in the UK for whichever is the shorter of:

  • Six or twelve months - depending on the trade agreement the services are provided under.
  • The date on the certificate of sponsorship plus an additional fourteen days.

This means the maximum stay is twelve months. If a service supplier visa inadvertently stays longer because they miscalculate the certificate of sponsorship date plus fourteen days, or because they want to complete contracted work, they will be classed as an overstayer. This will affect the visa holders immigration record and prospects of them securing future work visas, business visas or family visas. It may also affect the UK employer if they continued to engage the services of the worker after the worker’s right to work in the UK had ended.

Renewing a service supplier visa

Sponsorship Licence lawyers emphasise that the service supplier visa is a temporary route. It does not lead to UK settlement. In addition, a person in the UK on a service supplier visa can only stay in the UK for a maximum of five years in any six year period if they have spent time in the UK on any global business mobility visa or on an intra company transfer visa.

What can a worker do on a service supplier visa?

As a sponsored worker a service supplier visa holder can't change their employment unless they change their visa. Nor can they do work of a nature that is not in accordance with the job description on the certificate of sponsorship. They also can't take on a second job, although they can carry out unpaid voluntary work.

What the visa does allow them to do is to bring family members with them to the UK provided the family member meets the eligibility criteria for a dependant visa.

Next steps

As the global business mobility visa is still in its early stages, most UK employers are struggling to work out how it will help them meet their recruitment needs. As every business has different recruitment and global mobility requirements it is best to speak to an employment and business immigration solicitor about the wide range of work visa and business visa options and what is involved in applying for a sponsor licence.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

For advice on sponsor licences and UK work visa routes call the expert London Sponsorship Licence Lawyers  at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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