Under the new Global Business Mobility Route, employers can send or bring overseas workers to the United Kingdom through five different visas. These routes are the Senior or Specialist Worker Visa, Graduate Trainee Visa, Secondment Worker Visa, UK Expansion Worker Visa, and Service Supplier Visa. Employers seeking to sponsor overseas workers on one or more of these routes will need to apply for, and be granted, a sponsor licence from the Home Office.
In this guide, we detail the requirement for employers sponsoring workers under the new Global Business Mobility Route to have and maintain a sponsor licence.
What is the Global Business Mobility Route?
The Global Business Mobility Route is a new work category within the UK immigration system. It includes five different visas:
- Senior or Specialist Worker Visa
- Graduate Trainee Visa
- Secondment Worker Visa
- UK Expansion Worker Visa
- Service Supplier Visa
The Global Business Mobility Route allows eligible foreign national employees to come to the United Kingdom temporarily to work for an organisation with a sponsor licence. Overseas workers can only work for sponsored employees under the Global Business Mobility Route. This route does not provide a pathway to permanent residence in the United Kingdom, but it is a valuable option to temporarily move talent to UK offices or establish a UK trading presence for your organisation.
Sponsor licences & the Global Business Mobility Route
Sponsor licences are important for the Global Business Mobility Route because the new Points Based Immigration System (PBS) is based on visa sponsorship. The new post-Brexit era requires all employees seeking to work in the United Kingdom to have proper immigration permission to do so. The Home Office recognises that one of the benefits of European free movement was that EU offices of organisations could quickly shift personnel temporarily to the United Kingdom. Now, the UK immigration system is creating routes that can allow for the facilitation of temporary employment arrangements while also requiring businesses to demonstrate financial responsibility and the capability to hire foreign workers. A sponsor licence is a key tool available to maintain these assurances.
Do workers need visa sponsorship under the Global Business Mobility Route?
Individuals seeking to move to the United Kingdom with the Global Business Mobility Route on a temporary basis will all require visa sponsorship. Only British citizens, settled persons in the UK, and those who do not require visa sponsorship, such as people living in the UK on Partner Visas and non-sponsored visas such as Ancestry and Youth Mobility Visas, can work without a visa. People with EU Settled or Pre-Settled Status also do not require visa sponsorship.
Eligibility & sponsorship requirements to hire under the Global Business Mobility Route?
The eligibility and sponsorship requirements for a sponsor licence with the Global Business Mobility Route include the following criteria:
- Your organisation is considered trustworthy and financially responsible
- Your organisation can offer employment that meets Global Business Mobility Route skill and salary requirements
- Your organisation has a qualifying link with an overseas business from which employees will be sent to the UK
- Your organisation has put processes in place to monitor sponsor licence compliance requirements
- Your organisation does not have past unspent criminal convictions regarding acts such as breach of immigration offences and financial fraud
- Your organisation does not have a history of sponsor licence compliance duty failure
There are additional requirements for organisations seeking to sponsor employees on the UK Expansion Worker Visa, such as:
- Your organisation has a UK ‘footprint’
- Your organisation has an overseas trading presence
- Your organisation has credible plans to expand the business to the United Kingdom and the ability to establish trading in the UK within the following two years
Supporting documents for a Global Business Mobility sponsor licence application
The types of supporting documents needed for a sponsor licence with the Global Business Mobility Route will depend on the nature of your business. You must provide a minimum of four documents from the following list:
- Your organisation’s VAT registration certificate
- Business premises rental agreement or lease agreement
- Bank statements for your organisation from the past 12 months
- Employer liability insurance certificate
- Documents from HMRC that include your organisation’s PAYE Reference Number and Accounts Office Reference Number
- Most recently submitted annual accounts and Company Tax Return CT620
You will also need to provide the following documents:
- Company organisation chart
- A detailed covering letter with the requested information about your organisation
You must provide all necessary documents in one of the official languages of the United Kingdom (English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic), and any documents that are not originally provided in English will require an additional official translation alongside the original document.
How to apply for a sponsor licence for the Global Business Mobility Route
To apply for a sponsor licence with the Global Business Mobility Route, you will need to be prepared, organised, and well-informed about the rights and responsibilities of a sponsor licence holder. You will first need to discuss and consider the duties and rights within your organisation and decide if visa sponsorship is right for your business. You will need to be certain that you can financially and organisationally support overseas workers as per Home Office guidance. You should also select a person or a team within your organisation who will be tasked with overseeing required compliance duties for sponsor licence holders going forward. If issues arise, this person or team will need to take action.
Depending on the circumstances and nature of your organisation, you will need to collate all necessary documents for the Global Business Mobility Route. You must provide all necessary documents in one of the official languages of the United Kingdom (English, Welsh, or Scottish Gaelic), and any documents that are not originally provided in English will require an additional official translation alongside the original document.
Next, your organisation will need to fill out and submit the online application form for a sponsor licence with the Global Business Mobility. You should be certain to apply for the correct type of licence – a Worker licence, Temporary Worker licence, or both types of licences. You should consult the relevant colleagues if you come across any questions that you do not know the answer to or have questions about. You will need to pay the relevant application fee based on the nature and size of your organisation at the end of the online application form. If it is available at the time of submission, you may be given a choice to select expedited processing for your licence with the Global Business Mobility Route for an additional fee. After paying the fee(s), your application will be sent to the Home Office.
Finally, you should submit all supporting documentation to the Home Office through the portal or email address provided. Once you have submitted your online sponsor licence application form, you will be provided with a document checklist that identifies the type of documents you must submit by a specific date. The sooner you can provide the documents, the better, as the Home Office will not begin processing your application until receipt of supporting documents. After submitting all required documents for your sponsor licence application with the Global Business Mobility Route, the Home Office will consider your request. You must not hire foreign national workers until you receive a positive outcome on your sponsor licence application. You will be given access to the Home Office Sponsorship Management System (SMS) if your application is approved, which allows you to issue Certificates of Sponsorship to employees.
How much does it cost to apply for a Global Business Mobility sponsor licence?
The cost of a sponsor licence with the Global Business Mobility Route depends on the size and nature of your organisation. You should first note whether you seek to apply for a Worker licence or a Temporary Worker licence.
If you would like to hire overseas employees on the Senior or Specialist Worker Visa with the Global Business Mobility Route, you will need to apply for a Worker licence. If you would like to hire overseas employees on the UK Expansion Worker, Secondment Worker, Graduate Trainee, or Service Supplier Visas with the Global Business Mobility Route, you will need to apply for a Worker licence.
If you would like to hire both overseas employees that fall under both the Worker and Temporary Worker categories, you will need to apply for both types of sponsor licences.
You will also need to consider whether your organisation is charitable, small, medium, or large. The Home Office will consider your organisation small if you meet at least two of the following statements:
- If your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less than £10.2 million
- If you have 50 employees or less than 50 employees
- If your total business assets are £5.2 million or less than £5.2 million
The Home Office will consider your organisation a charitable sponsor if you meet one of the following criteria:
- Your organisation has registered charity status in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and/or Scotland
- Your organisation is categorised as an ecclesiastical corporation that has been established for charitable purposes
- Your organisation is considered an exempt charity
- Your organisation is considered an excepted charity
Following this pattern, the application fees for sponsor licences with the Global Business Mobility Route are as follows:
Fees for medium and large sponsors:
- Worker licence: £1,476
- Temporary Worker licence: £536
- Worker licence and Temporary Worker licence: £1,476
- Adding a Temporary Worker licence if you currently have a Worker licence: £0
- Adding a Worker licence if you currently have a Temporary Worker licence: £940
Fees for small and charitable sponsors:
- Worker licence: £536
- Temporary Worker licence: £536
- Worker licence and Temporary Worker licence: £536
- Adding a Temporary Worker licence if you currently have a Worker licence: £0
- Adding a Worker licence if you currently have a Temporary Worker licence: £0
You must pay the required application fee at the point of submitting your online sponsor licence application to the Home Office.
How long does it take for a Global Business Mobility Route sponsor licence application to process?
In general, the Home Office aims to process sponsor licence applications for the Global Business Mobility Route within 2 months or 8 weeks. If UK Visas and Immigration deems that a visit to your business premises is required, your application will take longer than this period to process. Visits to business premises occur on an as-needed basis, and the Home Office will contact you if this is required to process your sponsor licence application.
You may be able to opt for expedited processing time on your sponsor licence application with the Global Business Mobility Route. If expedited processing is available at the point of submitting your online application, you should immediately request this service from the Home Office. A limited number of expedited processing requests are accepted on a daily basis. If your request is approved, your sponsor licence application will be processed within 10 business days, and you will need to pay an additional £500 to benefit from this service.
Your compliance obligations as a sponsor licence holder
The Home Office identifies visa sponsorship as a privilege, not a right that requires the fulfilment of specific duties. As a sponsor licence holder with the Global Business Mobility Route, you will have a number of important responsibilities if your sponsor licence application is approved by the UK Government. The Home Office will require you to meet ongoing compliance duties as a sponsor licence holder with the Global Business Mobility Route. If you are granted a sponsor licence with the Global Business Mobility Route, you will need to fulfill the following sponsor duties:
You have reporting duties, such as:
- Reporting important changes to sponsored employees’ work or role within 10 or 20 working days, depending on the nature of the change
- Reporting suspicions of criminal activity or terrorism by sponsored employees to the Police
You have record-keeping duties, such as:
- Retaining required documents of sponsored employees for the appropriate length of time, electronically or in paper form
- Providing required documents of sponsored employees to the Home Office upon request
- Complying with General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018 responsibilities
You must comply with UK immigration laws, such as:
- Employing qualified workers only who can legally fill a genuine vacancy in your organisation
- Retaining registration documents of sponsored employees
- Issuing Certificates of Sponsorship to intended sponsored employees who you believe will meet all immigration requirements
- Disclosing important information about sponsored employees in the sponsor note section of the Certificate of Sponsorship, such as family ties to the business
- Advising intended sponsored employees to obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if required, based on the sensitive nature of their work and your organisation
You must comply with broader UK law, such as:
- Complying with legislation pertaining to illegal working, employment and labour rights, and right-to-rent
- Holding correct registration and tax statuses, including Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and safeguarding requirements
- Possessing all required planning permissions and local authority requirements for your organisation
You must not engage in behaviour that has been deemed unconducive with the public good, such as:
- Fostering inter-community divides or hatred
- Glorifying, justifying, or encouraging terrorism
- Discriminating against, either actively or passively, the rights of protected groups on the basis of personal characteristics
Your sponsor licence may be revoked or downgraded to B-rated status if you fail to meet compliance duties. If your sponsor licence is revoked or downgraded, you will be unable to sponsor new overseas workers and may be required to end the contracts of all sponsored workers unless you can readily meet your compliance requirements. As such, this is a matter to be taken seriously by all employers seeking to bring overseas workers to the United Kingdom with the Global Business Mobility Route
Global Business Mobility sponsor licence FAQs
How much does it cost to sponsor an overseas worker?
The cost to sponsor an overseas worker will depend on the visa route of the worker and the nature of your organisation. You will need to apply and pay for a sponsor licence. You will need to pay for each Certificate of Sponsorship. You may need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge for some categories of overseas workers. You may also choose to pay the application fees and IHS fees for overseas workers, but this is not mandatory.
Do businesses that want to sponsor workers from outside the UK need to have a sponsor licence?
Yes. If your business wants to sponsor workers from outside the UK, you will need to apply for and be granted a sponsor licence. You must apply to the Home Office for a sponsor licence, pay an application fee, and provide supporting documents.
How much does it cost to sponsor a Global Business Mobility Visa?
The cost to sponsor a Global Business Mobility Visa will depend on the nature of your organisation. If you have a preexisting Worker licence and would like to add a Temporary Worker licence, the application will be free. If you would like to apply for a new Worker or Temporary Worker licence, the application fees will range from £536 to £1,476. There are also other associated costs to consider.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law, and should not be treated as such. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission. Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.