What could the UK’s Business
Mobility routes look like
in 2022?

Last week, we brought you the news that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has published a report reviewing the UK’s Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route. The MAC, an independent body which provides evidence-based advice on migration issues, was commissioned by the Home Office to carry out the study in advance of some key immigration reforms set to be introduced in 2022.

As we explored in our article last week, the MAC has put forward several recommendations for adjustments to the ICT route following the review, and the Home Office will now consider whether these changes will be implemented.

As part of the research, the MAC was also asked to help the Home Office with the design of its mobility offer for overseas businesses. This is due to take shape next spring, in the form of a new Global Business Mobility route. The new route will form an ‘umbrella category’ for workers coming to the UK on temporary assignments, and will consolidate the ICT visa and other business mobility visas into a single route.

The UK’s current business mobility routes

Overseas businesses looking to transfer their employees to the UK currently have the following options available to them:

  • The Intra-Company Transfer route enables multi-national companies to transfer their overseas employees to a UK subsidiary or connected branch of the business for temporary assignments.
  • The Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Trainee route is a sub-category of ICT visa for workers who are being transferred by the overseas employer to undertake a role in the UK as part of a structured graduate training programme.
  • The Representative of an Overseas Business (otherwise known as the ‘Sole Representative’ route) allows overseas businesses looking to establish a UK presence to send a senior employee to the UK with the intention of setting up a branch or wholly-owned subsidiary.
  • The International Agreement route is a category of temporary work visa which allows individuals to come to the UK to provide a service covered under international law.

The new Global Business Mobility route

Set to launch in spring 2022, the Global Business Mobility route will enable overseas businesses to temporarily send an employee to the UK for a specific corporate purpose that could not be done by a resident worker. The assignment types will be grouped into five categories:

  • Senior or specialist worker
  • Graduate trainee
  • UK expansion worker
  • Secondment worker
  • Service supplier

The Global Business Mobility route may be used by overseas businesses with or without an established UK presence, and will accommodate a range of scenarios. It will require employers to sponsor the workers they are bringing in under this route. Applicants will need to demonstrate that they have a receiving business which will provide sponsorship, a sending business and that there is a business relationship between the two entities (such as common ownership, a contract for goods or services, or plans for a UK expansion).

Ahead of the new route’s launch, the Home Office asked the MAC to review and advise on three key business mobility areas: subsidiaries, secondments and short-term assignments. The resulting recommendations are as follows.


The UK’s existing Sole Representative route allows overseas businesses to send one employee to the UK to set up a branch or wholly-owned subsidiary. The Home Office asked the MAC to advise on the possibility of creating a new “Team Subsidiary” visa, which would allow overseas businesses to send a group of representatives to the UK.

The MAC advises the Home Office to trial the team route over a period of two years, with the following conditions:

  • The overseas company must obtain a form of sponsor licence that would evidence their overseas presence and would be used to sponsor the team members coming to the UK to establish the subsidiary.
  • The Team Subsidiary visa should be limited to a two year period.
  • The number of team members should be limited to five, and at least one team member must meet the criteria of the current Sole Representative route. The remaining team members must meet the criteria of the Skilled Worker route as a minimum.


As part of the review’s commission, the Home Office requested recommendations on the ability of an overseas business to second a team of workers to the UK in relation to a high-value contract for goods or services.

The report pointed out that such activity is permitted under the visitor rules, however visit policy does not permit the worker to reside in the UK for a continuous period of more than 6 months, and dependants are not permitted. The MAC therefore recommends that a secondment route should be established that has the following initial criteria:

  • The contract value must be in excess of £50 million.
  • The overseas business must have been operating for at least 12 months.
  • Visas should be issued for a maximum of 12 months with the possibility of a single renewal.
  • Dependants should be eligible.

Short-term assignments

Stakeholder evidence reviewed by the MAC raised concerns about the lack of an agile, time limited route that would allow a migrant to come to the UK to carry out specialist technical work which only requires a few days or weeks to complete; making the ICT route burdensome and slow whilst such work is not allowed under visit policy.

The MAC has advised the Home Office to explore how the visit visa rules could be adapted to facilitate time limited, essential work travel to the UK, and to consider the option of a short-term ICT route.

Get help with reaching your business mobility goals

The launch of the Global Business Mobility route next year is set to really shake things up in terms of overseas transfers and secondments to the UK, and employers can take advantage of more opportunities to increase their global reach.

If you want to learn more about how the reforms could impact your business’s global mobility strategy, SSW can help. To discuss your requirements with a qualified immigration advisor, please contact us today.

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