Overseas companies can second workers to the UK as part of a high value contract or investment. We are specialists in UK Secondment Worker visa applications.
The UK Secondment Worker visa is one of five sponsored business immigration routes under the Global Business Mobility visa (GBM) umbrella. This is a collection of various different routes aimed at overseas businesses looking to either establish a presence or expand their business in the UK, or to transfer staff.
The UK Secondment Worker visa is for overseas workers who are looking to undertake work assignments in the UK on a temporary basis, where the worker is due to be seconded to the UK as part of either a high value contract or investment by their employer overseas. Unlike some of the other routes under the GMB umbrella, which replace and reform previous routes, this is a brand new route, designed to facilitate trade and boost the UK economy.
Under this route, an applicant can apply for entry clearance from outside the UK. They can also apply for leave to remain if already in the UK, provided they do not have or have last been granted leave as a Visitor, Short-term Student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, a Domestic Worker in a Private Household or outside the UK’s Immigration Rules.
Applicants must aged be 18 or over to qualify for a UK Secondment Worker visa. If applying for entry clearance under this route, the applicant must also be working at the time for an overseas business that has a contract with their UK sponsor, and have worked for that business outside the UK for a period of at least 12 months. The applicant will not be required to meet an overseas work requirement if they are applying for permission to stay and are applying to continue working for the same sponsor as a Secondment Worker.
As a points-based system visa, and in addition to the age and overseas work requirement, the UK Secondment Worker visa requires applicants to be awarded a total of 40 points against the following two criteria: sponsorship and having a job offer at an appropriate skill level.
To score 20 points for sponsorship as a UK Secondment Worker, the applicant must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) assigned by a UK licensed sponsor for the job which they are planning to do in the UK. They must also be being sponsored for employment which is genuine. This means that the Home Office must not have reasonable grounds to believe that the job the applicant is being sponsored to do is either a sham or has been created mainly so that the applicant can apply for entry clearance or leave to remain.
To score 20 points for skill as a UK Secondment Worker, the applicant must be sponsored for a job listed in Appendix Skilled Occupations under the Immigration Rules that is identified as eligible for the Global Business Mobility routes. The sponsor must choose an appropriate occupation code, and the Home Office must not have reasonable grounds to believe that the sponsor has chosen a less appropriate occupation code due to the most appropriate occupation code not being eligible under the GBM routes.
To support the assessment, the Home Office may consider whether or not the sponsor can show a genuine need for the job described, and whether or not the applicant is suitably qualified to do that job. It may also consider the sponsor’s history of compliance with the immigration system including, but not limited to, paying its sponsored workers appropriately.
In addition to the points-based requirements, a UK Secondment Worker from a listed country must provide a valid tuberculosis test certificate. Those applying for either entry clearance or leave to remain, where they have been in the UK for less than 12 months, must also satisfy a financial requirement. The financial requirement must be met by showing proof of funds of at least £1,270. The applicant will need to have had the money available for at least 28 consecutive days, where the end date of the 28 day period must be within 31 days of the date that they apply. Alternatively, the sponsor must certify maintenance on the CoS for one month.
To obtain a UK Secondment Worker visa, the applicant will need to be sponsored by a Home Office approved employer authorised to sponsor this category of worker.
To sponsor a worker under the UK Secondment Worker route, a business must first hold an A-rated sponsor licence. Businesses should therefore be taking steps to apply for a sponsor licence, if not already on the register of licensed sponsors, or to add Secondment Workers to their existing licence. Only once permission has been granted by the Home Office can the UK employer assign a valid CoS to a prospective overseas worker.
When applying for a licence to sponsor workers under any of the GBM routes, the sponsor must show that there is a qualifying link with an overseas business that will send the workers to the UK, although the nature of that link will depend on the route. In the context of the UK Secondment Worker route, the sponsor must have an investment or contract for goods or services with an overseas business worth at least £10 million per year, and no less than £50 million in total. This therefore means that if the duration of the contract is less than a period of 5 years, it must be at least £50 million in value. If the contract is 5 years plus, it must be at least £10 million per year in value. If the contract has no express end date, it must be worth at least £50 million over the first 5 years. This is known as the ‘eligible contract requirement’.
Under the eligible contract requirement, the UK sponsor must have at least one eligible contract with an overseas service provider. This must be the contract the applicant will be working on whilst in the UK. The sponsor will need to register the contract with the Home Office via the Sponsorship Management System (SMS), either when they apply for their sponsor licence or prior to assigning a CoS to the Secondment Worker. The sponsor must also confirm which contract the applicant will be working on when they assign the CoS. If an application for a sponsor licence on the Secondment Worker route is approved, the sponsor can only assign an CoS to a worker who is coming to the UK to fulfil that specific contract.
If the sponsor wants to bring workers to the UK under a new contract, they must tell the Home Office about this and not assign any CoS in connection with the new contract until they have agreed that it meets the relevant requirements. The sponsor can use the ‘Request change of circumstances function’ in their SMS account to tell the Home Office about any new contract and request an increase in their CoS allocation. Once reported, the sponsor will be asked for supporting evidence, together with a timeframe to provide this documentation.
To apply for a UK Secondment Worker visa, the applicant will need to complete an online application, using their CoS reference number. The applicant must have a CoS that was issued to them by their sponsor no more than 3 months before the date of application.
As part of their application for a UK Secondment Worker visa, they will need to prove their identity and provide any supporting documents. They may need to attend an appointment to do this and to provide their biometric information. When applying, the applicant must have:
Once the applicant has submitted their application, proved their identity, provided their documents and paid the application fee, a decision will usually be made within around 3 weeks when applying from outside the UK and around 8 weeks for in-country applications.
To apply for a UK Secondment Worker visa, there are a number of different costs involved. In addition to needing funds of at least £1,270, where applicable, the applicant must pay an application fee of £259 and the annual immigration health surcharge.
There are also various costs associated with sponsorship, including a fee to apply for a Temporary Worker sponsor licence of £536, and a fee of £21 for issuing each CoS.
If an application for a UK Secondment Worker visa is successful, the visa-holder will be able to come to or remain in the UK for up to one year initially, with the option to extend their stay by up to a further year. However, two years is the maximum continuous period a visa-holder can stay in the UK on this route. Secondment Workers are also subject to the maximum cumulative period for the GBM routes, where a person can only stay in the UK for a maximum of 5 years in any 6 year period if they’ve spent time on any of the other GBM or Intra-Company routes.
The UK Secondment Worker visa will not provide the visa-holder with a path to settlement in the UK, although they may be able to apply for leave to remain under a different immigration route, provided they meet the eligibility requirements under that route.
A UK Secondment Worker can be accompanied or joined by their partner and dependent children if they meet the relevant requirements for dependants. This includes unmarried partners, provided they are aged 18 or over and have lived with the applicant in a relationship that is akin to a marriage or civil partnership for a period of at least 2 years. The relationship must also be genuine and subsisting, where the applicant and their Secondment Worker partner must intend to reside together throughout the applicant’s stay in the UK.
Anyone applying for permission to stay as a partner or child of a Secondment Worker must be in the UK on the date of application and must not have or have last been granted leave as a Visitor, Short-term Student, Parent of a Child Student, Seasonal Worker, a Domestic Worker in a Private Household or outside the UK’s Immigration Rules.
Where eligible, dependants will be required to apply online, prove their identity, provide their biometric information and any supporting documents. They will also be required to pay an application fee and healthcare surcharge, and may need to meet a financial requirement.
DavidsonMorris’ business immigration specialists provide guidance on the Home Office requirements to deploy personnel under the Secondment Worker route, including advice on the sponsorship obligations for employers and the visa application process for your employees.
As a team of immigration lawyers and former Home Office personnel, we can work in support of your in-house HR team or take care of all aspects of your sponsor licence and visa applications.
Our business immigration services include:
Contact us for specialist advice.
The cost of sponsoring an overseas worker can include a sponsor licence fee, a fee for issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship and even an Immigration Skills Charge, although these costs will depend on the sponsored immigration route in question.
If a business is looking to sponsor an overseas worker, they will need a licence to sponsor that category of worker, for example, as a Skilled Worker or as a worker under one of the new Global Business Mobility routes.
The cost of sponsoring a secondment worker in the UK is £536 to apply for a licence to sponsor this category of worker, plus £21 to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship, in addition to the applicants’ fees for a visa.