Global Business Mobility – Service Supplier Visa

For foreign workers working on temporary assignments in the UK, the Global Business Mobility: Service Supplier path is available. The applicant must be either an independent contractor based abroad or a contractual service provider hired by an overseas service provider. The service rendered must be protected by a trade agreement with the UK.

The Appendix Temporary Worker: International Agreement route (also known as the “International Agreement” visa) previously included the Service Supplier route. The International Agreement visa is still available for those who wish to enter the UK in order to provide a service covered by international law, but it is now only available to domestic staff working in diplomatic residences or for foreign governments and international organisations. Under the Global Business Mobility pathways, the service provider component has been separated out and grouped with four other temporary work visas.

This path allows dependent family members to apply to immigrate to the UK, but it does not result in settlement.

Note that the terms “contractual service supplier” and “overseas service supplier” are used interchangeably in the regulations and guidelines.

Why Is This Path Advantageous And What Is A Service Provider?

A service provider is a business that offers services in a particular industry in accordance with one of the international agreements indicated in Table A of the sponsor advice. The business must not have a commercial presence in the UK (i.e., no offices, branches, or subsidiaries there).

The service provider is totally cut off from the UK, yet they require a UK sponsor in order to use this immigration route. Why would a UK corporation want to bother with the onerous sponsorship obligations and financing someone else’s staff to come to the UK, you might wonder.

Before Brexit, the EU was a significant source of workers for UK businesses, notably for tradesmen. Since the cessation of free movement, that pool has gradually diminished, adding to the manpower shortages. This approach is advantageous because it enables UK businesses to temporarily close the skills gap while maintaining operational continuity.

The route has severe eligibility standards even though there is no English language requirement. If there are no alternative immigration options, it is a final resort for bringing craftsmen to the UK. We’ll concentrate on contractual service providers throughout this tutorial as independent experts tend to stay away from the process due to how stringent it is.

Standards For The UK Sponsor

The UK sponsor, the foreign service provider, and the visa applicant must all meet certain conditions. The UK sponsor will be discussed first.

Being Licenced

An A-rated Global Business Mobility: Service Supplier sponsor licence is required for the UK sponsor. Although applying for a sponsor licence is outside the purview of this article, the Home Office website provides comprehensive instructions.

Having A Real Contract That The Home Office Has Approved

The service must be in accordance with an actual contract that is valid for no more than 12 months. The contract must have been awarded after an open tendering process (or another method that ensures the validity of the contract).

As long as there is a clear contractual connection between the sponsor, the subcontractor, and the overseas service provider, the service supplier provisions under the Global Business Mobility route now permit subcontracting by the overseas service provider. This benefits both the sponsor and the potential talent pool for the international service provider. Be aware right away that the subcontractor may need to be named on the primary contract, any addendums, and in the personnel list. When asking the Home Office for contract approval, additional paperwork can be required.

This need is one that the Home Office takes very seriously. A copy of the agreement must be sent with the licence application from a new sponsor. Before assigning a CoS via the Service Supplier method going ahead and for any current sponsors, they must get in touch with Sponsor Change of Circumstances and provide a copy of the signed services contract. The contract must first be reviewed and approved by SCOC before the CoS request can be approved.

The Sponsor Management System (‘SMS’), where approved contracts are stored, should allow you to examine them. In short, choose “Licence summary, applications and services” and “Overseas Linked Entities” as described in SMS Guide 11. Service providers have an area where you can see:

  • Name of linked OSE
  • Contract name
  • Contract purpose
  • Contract effect from/to dates
  • Related trade agreement
  • Applicable sector

The sponsor licence will be terminated if you assign a CoS in connection with any other contract that has not received approval. Below, we go into further detail on allocating a CoS.

Becoming The Service’s Ultimate Customer

It is against the law to sponsor contractual service providers and then provide them to another business. The final user of the service must be the UK sponsor.

Providing A Certified Sponsorship In Good Standing

A refusal is quite possible if the CoS are not adequately drafted and assigned. As contrasted to a Senior or Specialist Worker CoS, there are a few significant distinctions that are described below.

  • Applications for entry-clearance must include an undef CoS.
  • The fact that they are being sponsored via the Service Supplier route and as a contractual service supplier should be made clear in the role summary.
  • Choose a SOC Code that is appropriate (more on this below).
  • If the salary is not being paid by the UK sponsor, it must be entered as £0.01 and the payment terms must be described in the free text box located beneath the salary entry.
  • The exact, applicable international agreement’s specifics, as well as the contract’s name and term, must be provided.
  • Typically, maintenance is certified on the CoS in order to reduce the number of supporting documentation.
Requirements For International Service Providers

The Project Must Be Compliant With The Obligations Set Forth In A Specific International Agreement

According to the caseworker guidance, a service can only be protected by a trade commitment when the pertinent agreement is in effect or being implemented proviso. It has a connection to appropriate trade agreements. The sponsor guideline, which also includes a list in Annex GBM1, can be used as a cross-reference. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) are two examples of international accords that qualify.

Under the agreements included in Table A, which is located below the list of international agreements, the overseas service provider must concur with the UK sponsor that the work the visa applicant is coming to conduct fits within the ambit of the sectors described in those agreements.

They Need To Be Established In The Nation Or Area That Has Ratified The Agreement

The contractual service provider must also have a physical presence in the nation or territory that is a party to the contract they are providing services under. Thus, they are required to register as a trade business. The nation or territory (as well as the UK) must have signed the treaty on which reliance is made.

There Is No Business Presence In The UK

The overseas service provider must not have a business presence in the UK, as was previously stated.

Conditions for the Temporary Employee

The employee must satisfy the conditions for eligibility, suitability, and validity. Before focusing on the specifics of the qualifying standards, we’ll quickly go over the validity and appropriateness requirements.

Validity Prerequisite

The validity standards under the new immigration system are comparable to those for the majority of PBS routes. The applicant must submit a legitimate visa application, pay the necessary application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge (if applicable), enrol their biometrics, provide their supporting documentation, and have an allocated Certificate of Sponsorship issued no later than three months prior to the date of application. The UK Immigration: ID check app can be used to submit an application by those who qualify.

If you weren’t previously in the country on a short-term visa, such as a guest, seasonal worker, or short-term student, you can convert to this method. This is a nice development because earlier you couldn’t switch unless the application was asking for permission to stay or they were already here with permission under the route.

Suitability Condition

The applicant must not be rejected based on one of the reasons listed in Part 9 of the Immigration Rules. They must not be in violation of immigration laws, with the usual exception of paragraph 39E (which contains exceptions for overstayers), and they must not be under immigration bond if they are requesting permission to stay.

Prerequisites For Citizenship And Residency

The applicant for the visa must be a citizen of the nation or territory where the foreign undertaking is located.

Depending on which international agreement is responded to, there are also special restrictions that apply. The fact that applicants with permanent residence in a nation or territory that has submitted a notification under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) is the most important information to know. Although it isn’t stated explicitly in the sponsor guidelines, this is theoretically permissible in accordance with all international agreements as long as you first receive approval from the Home Office (for example, via the Sponsor Change of Circumstances team; see below).

Required Overseas Employment

The applicant, who may be a current employee of the overseas service provider, must have spent a total of 12 months working for or as an employee of the overseas service provider outside of the UK.

They must provide paystubs to prove their employment history, along with a payslip validation letter on letterhead paper if the paystubs were generated online. Bank statements that demonstrate the salary being deposited into the account can be submitted, but if paystubs cannot be provided, you need to confirm why. You don’t want to learn at the last minute that they are a subcontractor or self-employed employee because they have different criteria.

Qualification Prerequisite

Either Option A or Option B will allow the candidate to satisfy the qualification criterion.

The prerequisites for Option A are outlined in paragraphs SSU 6.1 to 6.6. The candidate must be sponsored in a position that falls under one of the Appendix Skilled Occupations and is approved for Global Business Mobility. The sponsor is cautioned by SSU 6.2 and 6.3 not to choose a less acceptable code just because it has a lower salary requirement. Instead, they must select an appropriate code. The sponsor is advised that they may be scrutinised by the decision-maker, who may take into account the applicant’s level of expertise, the sponsor’s prior compliance history, and whether there is a legitimate need for the position.

The specifications for Option B are provided in paragraphs SSU 7.1 to 7.5. Unless an exemption exists, the applicant may apply if they possess a university degree or a technical certificate of an equivalent level. Only six outliers are listed.

These are especially helpful for people who work in the field of “technical testing and analysis,” in my experience. Instead of an equal technical qualification, the required qualification in certain cases is either a “university degree or a relevant technical qualification.” The latter is frequently a certification from City and Guilds or a comparable organisation. Because of the high risk and time-sensitivity of this technique, it is worthwhile to use ECCTIS to get a statement of comparability to confirm.

The candidate must also have at least three years of professional experience in the field (or more under certain conditions). The candidate will provide a CV outlining their prior employment to prove they match the requirement. They might also have citations. Additionally, they must certify on the application form that they meet this criteria.

Finally, the applicant must possess any professional credentials or licences required to offer the services under UK law, rules, or industry standards. Even though Option A applicants are exempt from this rule’s requirements, you might advise the sponsor to make sure that each applicant has the credentials and registrations required to abide by wider UK legislation.

Demand For Sincerity

The candidate must also really want to fill the position for which they are being sponsored.

The last thing you need is an authenticity criterion when the goal of this way is to guarantee the delivery of work to the UK sponsor. The Home Office has the right to subjectively review the entire application, demand more paperwork, pose inquiries, and impose delays.

As a result, it is advisable to prepare months in advance to obtain all the necessary evidence (while obviously observing the time-sensitive documented requirements). In actuality, the UK sponsor is likely to have begun the procedure around a year earlier. They will have submitted the bid and identified a potential provider of services from abroad.

What Is The Price?

It is reasonably priced. There isn’t a cost for the Certificate of Sponsorship.

The Immigration Skills Charge and Immigration Health Surcharge will not apply if the worker is requesting entry-clearance for a duration of less than six months, which is frequently the case with this method.

Fees are presently as follows for an application for entry-clearance lasting less than six months:

  • Fee for application: £259
  • Any additional costs for priority processing: around £250
If My Visa Is Granted, What Will I Receive?

Those who request entry-clearance will receive a 90-day visa sticker and an email confirming their approval. The worker must depart for the UK before that time period is up, and they will probably depart in accordance with the start date listed on their CoS and the UK sponsor’s schedule for finishing the task.

If the worker stays longer than six months after arriving, a biometric residence permit will be given to them. Instead of a physical permit, everybody who submits an application using the UK Immigration app will be given a digital immigration status. Although it’s uncommon for service providers to request to extend, if they did or if they switched to the route, the benefits they receive will often depend on their nationality and if they previously held a BRP.

Prior to the employee’s first day of employment, the UK sponsor must carry out the right-to-work verification that is specified on their Certificate of Sponsorship.

How Much Time May A Visa Be Issued For?

The length of the job should be considered while granting the visa. Depending on the trade agreement, the overall period is typically limited to up to 6 months or 12 months. Service Providers are permitted to return to the UK for additional assignments, however the total number of assignments made by an applicant cannot result in more than five years’ worth of cumulative authorisation on Global Business Mobility routes in any six-year period.

Checking if the employee has already been granted authorization on any Global Business Mobility routes is crucial because it will affect how long they can be provided for. Workers on Global Business Mobility routes should be made aware that, until they change to a route that allows settlement, they will only ever have temporary authorization to stay in the UK.

Need Help? Book Your Appointment with our Immigration Barrister or Immigration Team

For expert advice and assistance in relation to a UK visa application or immigration appeal, contact our immigration barrister on 07970286466 or call the office at 02078704870. You can also book the appointment online here.

Written by:

Ghulam Mustafa

Director, Barrister