Skip to main content
Global HR Lawyers

The new Global Business Mobility Routes

24 March 2022

New Immigration Rules have recently been laid in Parliament, setting out the details of the Global Business Mobility routes. These replace the existing Intra-Company Transfer routes, the Representative of an Overseas Business provisions for sole representatives and the contractual service provider element of the International Agreement route. New provisions are also introduced for secondees whose employer has a high value contract or investment in the UK.

On 15 March 2022, the Home Office published a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules, HC 1118. This includes a number of developments expected to be helpful for businesses seeking to facilitate knowledge transfer within an international group, to set up or expand a business in the UK, or to access a bigger pool of skilled talent from abroad. This article covers the Global Business Mobility routes, and we will cover other developments of interest to employers in a separate article.

Global Business Mobility routes (GBM)

The five Global Business Mobility (GBM) routes are due to be introduced from 9 am on 11 April 2022. They re-package and reform existing routes.

GBM migrants may only be granted immigration permission for up to five years in any six year period, with the exception of high earning senior or specialist workers (SSWs), who may be granted a maximum of nine years in any ten-year period.

Aside for some transitional arrangements for existing Intra-Company Transferees, GBM migrants will not be allowed to carry out supplementary employment. The policy logic of this appears to be that workers connected with international businesses should focus solely on the work tasks they have been brought to the UK to fulfil. 

Senior or Specialist Worker

The Senior or Specialist Worker (SSW) strand of the GBM routes reforms and replaces the Intra-Company Transferee (ICT) route. It is designed for use by senior managers and specialist employees of an international group business who are being transferred to one of the group’s UK businesses.

Many of the elements of the ICT route are carried over from ICT, including that the minimum skill level is Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) Level 6 (graduate level equivalent) and that there is no English language requirement. SSWs must be working for the sponsor group at the time of application, and have worked for the group abroad for at least 12 months unless they are a high earner.

Certain occupation codes for creative occupations are removed as follows:

  • 3411 Artists
  • 3412 Authors, writers and translators
  • 3413 Actors, Entertainers and presenters
  • 3414 Dancers and choreographers
  • 3422 Product, clothing and related designers

Although applicants under these codes will be able to extend their stay under transitional arrangements, new applicants will need to use either the Skilled Worker or Temporary Work – Creative Worker routes instead. This will require their sponsor to have a sponsor licence under the relevant route.

Although the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended this route should lead to settlement, the Home Office has rejected this. However, in line with the MAC’s suggestions, the minimum salary threshold is raised from £41,500 to £42,400 and the high earner threshold of £73,900 is maintained. 

The maximum grant of immigration permission under this strand is five years after the start date of the UK assignment, and subject to the overall maximum grant periods for the GBM routes.

Because the skill level and bar to settlement for SSWs is the same as it was for the ICT route, we anticipate a continuation of the trend for global businesses to apply for and hold Skilled Worker sponsor licences in addition to licences under the GBM routes. Doing this enables them to transfer certain employees whose occupation skill level is between RQF Level 3 and 5, or who wish to settle in the UK. Holding a Skilled Worker sponsor licence also leaves open the possibility of recruiting EEA/Swiss citizens who do not meet the requirements of the GBM routes. 

Graduate Trainee

The new Graduate Trainee provisions reform and replace the Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Trainee route for work placements in the UK as part of a graduate training course leading to a senior management or specialist position within an international business. The minimum salary requirement is raised from £23,000 to £23,100. The salary must also be above 70% of the going rate for the relevant occupation, and the occupation must be listed as an eligible occupation for the GBM routes.

Graduate Trainees must have worked for the sponsor group for at least the three months immediately before the date of application.

The maximum grant of immigration permission under this strand is one year after the start date of the UK assignment, and subject to the overall maximum grant periods for the GBM routes.

UK Expansion Worker

The UK Expansion Worker strand replaces and expands the Representative of an Overseas Business provisions for sole representatives. People who already have immigration permission as a sole representative will still be able to extend in this capacity and settle, and the overseas media representative provisions also remain in place.

The new Rules for UK Expansion Workers will allow a team of key senior management or specialist employees of an overseas business with no trading presence in the UK to staff the set-up phase of a UK branch or wholly owned subsidiary, whereas the current provisions only allow for the transfer of one senior executive.

Unlike the sole representative provisions, the new GBM strand requires a sponsor and does not lead to settlement. Under the new provisions, there also is no prohibition on an applicant having a controlling interest in the overseas business.

Sponsor guidance is expected to be released shortly, and this should outline the criteria for sponsorship and how many workers can be sponsored under the strand. The MAC previously recommended a maximum of five workers. 

UK Expansion Workers must be paid at least £42,400 or the going rate for their occupation, whichever is higher. They must also have worked for a connected business of the sponsor abroad for at least 12 months unless they are a high earner or a Japanese citizen and the branch or subsidiary falls within the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement.

Immigration permission may be granted for up to one year initially and extended up to a maximum of two years. 

In practice, individuals who come to the UK under this strand but ultimately aim to settle in the UK are likely to want to set up a Skilled Worker sponsor licence and switch into the Skilled Worker route as soon as possible. This is because time spent under the Expansion Worker strand cannot be counted towards the qualifying period for settlement in any other immigration category, including Skilled Worker.

The relevant businesses may also wish to set up a GBM SSW licence to facilitate the transfer of employees from group businesses abroad on a longer-term basis.  

Service Supplier

This strand reforms the Temporary Work – International Agreement provisions for service suppliers coming to the UK to provide services in line with one of the international trade agreements the UK is a party to.

‘Service suppliers’ are defined as contractual service suppliers employed by an overseas business, or self-employed independent professionals based overseas. 

Under the new provisions, applicants must:

  • Have a certificate of sponsorship from a sponsor licenced for the strand, including a confirmation they will be paid at least the national minimum wage;
  • Either be filling a job in an occupation listed as eligible for the GBM routes under Appendix Skilled Occupations, or have a university degree or equivalent technical qualification, subject to limited exceptions;
  • Be working as or for the overseas service provider at the time of application and outside the UK for at least a cumulative period of 12 months; 
  • Normally have at least three years’ professional experience in the sector they will be working in; and
  • Meet certain requirements regarding being a national or permanent resident of the country they are based in.


Immigration permission under this strand will be granted for up to 12 months if the relevant international agreement being relied on is the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement or the UK-Swiss trade agreement, or up to six months in all other cases. 

Secondment Worker 

The Secondment Worker strand covers individuals being seconded to the UK as part of a ‘high value contract or investment by their overseas employer’.

Sponsorship must be provided by the UK business involved in the transaction, and the relevant contract must be registered with the Home Office. It is anticipated that the Home Office will assess the value of the contract at that stage.

A secondment worker also must:

  • Have a certificate of sponsorship from a sponsor licenced for the strand, including a confirmation they will be paid at least the national minimum wage;
  • Be filling a job in an occupation listed as eligible for the GBM routes under Appendix Skilled Occupations;
  • Be working for the overseas business their sponsor has a Home Office-registered contract with at the time of application; and
  • Have worked for the overseas business for a cumulative period of at least 12 months.

Immigration permission may be granted for up to one year initially and extended up to a maximum of two years. 

Secondment Workers may be accompanied by dependants, whereas the dependants of secondee visitors were previously granted leave outside the Immigration Rules.

The secondee visitor provisions that currently cover secondees from clients of UK export companies are not deleted under the Statement of Changes. So, for the time-being, these are still available for use where they are met.

We will be covering the HC 1118 Immigration Rule changes in detail in our upcoming Immigration Law Academy on 29 and 30 March 2022. For further information and to register, see here. Alternatively, please get in touch with a member of our Immigration Team for help with any queries.

Related items

Back To Top