Special feature: spotlight on immigration

12 May 2023 | Icon Plus

In this week’s Icons of Relocation podcast episode, CEO Simon Johnston speak to Rahul Batra, Managing Partner at Hudson McKenzie, a leading UK law firm specialising in immigration.

What is the global mobility expansion worker visa?

The global mobility expansion worker visa is a new visa category for this year. The route has existed for a long time, but the name changed earlier this year. The visa is for the purpose of sending one person to the UK to set up operations there for the first time, without needing to already have created multiple jobs. There are a few eligibility requirements for this type of visa:

  • The company must not have a running operation in the UK at the time of applying for the visa
  • The individual going to the UK must be an existing senior employee of the company overseas

When the individual comes to the UK they can then apply for a sponsor licence. After this, they can then bring more employees to the UK on work permits, skilled worker visas or intra-company transfer visa, allowing the company to grow without initial commitments.

What types of sponsor licence are there?

There are two types of sponsor licence for an individual. They are the skilled worker licence and the global mobility visa. The former is for hiring new talent from abroad, while the latter is for moving existing talent from overseas. For the global mobility visa, you must:

  • Have worked for an overseas entity of the organisation for at least 12 months, or
  • Earn £73,900 or above

You can have both types of sponsorship licence, and it is recommended that you have both to give you the freedom of both recruiting new and moving existing talent.

Who can get a sponsor licence?

There is a misnomer that startups can’t apply for a sponsor licence which allows companies to bring people from abroad to work in the UK. This is not the case — companies of any size can apply. You will need to show a UK bank account and employers liability insurance. A sponsor licence is a blanket licence, meaning you don’t have to pay each time you want to bring a worker over (although you do have to pay for a work permit).

How long does it take to get a sponsor licence?

The UK tends to be the quickest across the world, making it an attractive location for businesses. In the US, for example, it can take months for a licence to be approved — but in the UK it can take only a matter of days. For the standard service, sponsor licences currently take about 12 weeks to come back in the UK. However, you can pay an extra £500 to get a faster decision in just 10 working days. In the past few months, it has become more apparent that the home office has a large backlog, which has been worsened by Brexit and the war in Ukraine. Therefore, Hudson McKenzie always recommends to pay for fast track service to be able to get a guaranteed return date.

What do different types of work permit mean for the individual?

Work permits can be granted for up to five years. If you initially apply for a shorter amount of time, it is a simple process to extent it up to a maximum of five years. For a skilled worker visa, after living and working in the country for five years, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain. This is not the case on a global mobility visa, although you can extend for up to nine years if you need certain salary and employment requirements.

How can you bring your family over?

The UK also has one of the easiest processes for bringing your ‘dependents’ over. Once in the UK, dependents can also work and do not need a separate visa to do so. Dependents are classed as children under 18 and spouses (or an unmarried partner if you have evidence that you have lived together for at least two years). If you are married, this marriage must be recognised in the UK.

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