Your organisation will need a Global Business Mobility Sponsor Licence to hire workers under any of the GBM routes. We are specialists in Home Office sponsor licence applications.
Since the Global Business Mobility (GBM) visas were first launched by the UK Home Office, more and more overseas and linked UK businesses are looking to take advantage of these visa routes to help establish a UK presence or transfer staff to the UK.
The following global business mobility sponsor licence guidance sets out how to apply for a sponsor licence under one of the GBM routes, from the eligibility requirements that need to be met to the procedure that must be followed.
The global business mobility sponsor licence is the approval given by the UK Home Office to sponsor a specific category of GBM worker. It is only once the sponsor has been authorised for a licence for the relevant GBM route that they can issue an overseas worker with a valid sponsorship certificate. It is the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) that will enable the worker to apply for a visa to work in the UK as either:
There are various route-specific requirements that must be met before an overseas worker will be granted a GBM visa, although sponsorship is required under all five routes.
To sponsor an overseas worker under any one of the five GBM routes, a business must first have a valid global business mobility sponsor licence in place. There are various eligibility requirements that must be met before being approved as a GBM sponsor, including:
If applying on the UK expansion worker route, the sponsor must also meet the additional requirements for that route. This means that the sponsor must be able to show, via credible expansion plans and a ‘UK footprint’, that it both intends and is capable of establishing a new UK branch or wholly-owned subsidiary within a 2-year period ‘and’ has an established overseas trading presence which has been active and trading for at least 3 years.
To obtain Home Office sponsor approval, the following requirements must also be met:
If the sponsor fails to meet all of the specific and general requirements for a global business mobility sponsor licence, their application will be refused. They may also be prohibited from re-applying for a period of at least 6 months although, in certain circumstances, this cooling-off period can be longer. It is therefore important to seek expert advice from an specialist in sponsor licence applications to maximise the prospects of a successful outcome.
If a business already holds a valid licence to sponsor overseas workers, but that licence does not include any of the GBM routes, an application can be made to add one or more these routes to an existing licence. In any event, to apply for a global business mobility sponsor licence, the proposed sponsor must complete an online application form and submit the supporting documents specified in Appendix A of the sponsor guidance.
All relevant supporting documents must be sent within 5 working days of submitting the application for a global business mobility sponsor licence. This includes documentation to show that the sponsoring business is a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK, or that the overseas business has credible plans and a UK footprint to establish a presence under the UK expansion worker route, together with details of any linked overseas business. It should also include evidence of any relevant route-specific requirements.
Before applying for a global business mobility sponsor licence, the proposed sponsor should:
The application process and preparation involved to gather the necessary documentation for a global business mobility sponsor licence can be complex. The proposed sponsor will also be required to give certain responsibilities to members of staff, referred to as the key personnel, some or all of whom will have access to the Home Office SMS once a licence is granted. This can become especially complex in the context of applying for a licence to sponsor UK expansion workers, with specific rules around who can act as the Authorising Officer and Level 1 SMS user.
The Home Office will also look into the background of any individual involved in the sponsorship process. As such, given the complexities involved, it is always best to seek expert immigration advice before applying for a sponsor licence.
When applying for a global business mobility sponsor licence, and when sponsoring an overseas worker under one of the GBM routes, there are various costs involved, including:
Sponsor licence application fee
For sponsor licensing fee purposes, the senior or specialist route is classified as a ‘worker’ route, where the application cost will depend on the size and charitable status of the sponsoring organisation. This means that an organisation applying for this sub-category of licence will pay the ‘large’ sponsor licence fee if they do not fall within the definition of ‘small or charitable sponsor’ under the relevant fees regulations.
The fee is currently £536 for small or charitable sponsors, and £1,476 for medium or large sponsors. In contrast, for an organisation applying for a licence on one or more of the remaining four GBM routes, they will pay the standard fee for a temporary worker sponsor licence of £536, regardless of their size or charitable status.
Immigration skills charge
To recruit an overseas senior or specialist worker, the sponsoring organisation must pay an immigration skills charge for each migrant worker it sponsors. The amount payable is again based on the size and status of the organisation, together with the length of time that the specialist or senior worker will be working in the UK.
For small or charitable sponsors, the immigration skills charge is currently set at £364 for the first 12 months, plus £182 for every additional 6-month period. For medium or large sponsors, this is set at £1,000 for the first 12 months, plus £500 for every extra 6 months.
Assigning an CoS to an overseas worker
There is also a fee to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to an overseas worker. Certificates assigned to senior or specialist workers will be charged the ‘worker’ CoS fee of £239, regardless of company size, status or duration of employment, while CoS assigned to workers on any one of the other GBM routes will be charged the standard temporary worker CoS fee of £25.
If an application for a global business mobility sponsor licence is approved, the name of the sponsoring organisation will appear on the Register of Sponsors. The sponsor will also be granted access to the SMS, enabling it to sponsor workers who meet the criteria under the relevant route by assigning them an CoS. With the exception of the UK expansion worker route, the sponsor will be granted an A-rating. Under the UK expansion worker route, the sponsor will be given either an A-rating or a provisional rating depending on whether its Authorising Officer is already based in the UK or still overseas.
In common with other sponsored work routes, a global business mobility sponsor licence will be valid for 4 years, although when sponsoring under the UK expansion worker route, an application cannot be made to renew this licence. This is because the purpose of this route is to enable genuine overseas businesses to expand to the UK, where the UK Home Office expect that business to have established a full trading presence in the UK within 2 years from the date that their licence was granted. As such, at the end of this 2-year period, the CoS allocation on this route will be reduced to zero. This means that the business will be unable to sponsor applications from new workers, nor extension applications from existing sponsored workers, on this route. The Home Office may also undertake a compliance visit to see if the sponsor is continuing to meet the conditions of its licence and if there is a realistic prospect that it will be able to establish a UK trading presence.
DavidsonMorris are UK business immigration specialists. Our team of experts support employers to meet their talent needs through international recruitment. We advise on sponsoring workers under the GMB routes, including guidance on making Global Business Mobility Sponsor Licence applications and offer ongoing licence compliance support.
Contact us for expert advice.
A global business mobility visa is one of five visas introduced by the Home Office designed to help overseas businesses to establish a UK presence or to help linked UK businesses to transfer staff to the UK.
Under the global business mobility umbrella, the senior or specialist worker visa, which replaced the intra-company transferee (ICT) visa, is for overseas workers who are undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK.
The cost of sponsorship can vary depending on the nature of the sponsor licence needed, and the size or charitable status of the business. There may also be an immigration skills charge and a fee for assigning a sponsorship certificate.
To obtain a sponsor licence, a qualifying business will need to apply to the UK Home Office for approval, meeting various eligibility requirements. In most cases, the applicant must be a genuine organisation operating lawfully in the UK.