New business immigration routes are announced as four routes close

In a recent statement, the Home Office has announced the closure of some business immigration routes and the launch of several new routes for global mobility including the High Potential route, the Scale Up route and the Global Business Mobility routes.

Four existing visa routes will be closed. It is envisaged these will be replaced by visa routes established within the Global Business Mobility route.

Routes to close Intra Company Transfer visa route including Graduate Trainee route.

  • Sole Representative visa route.
  • Contractual Service Supplier in the Temporary Work - International Agreement route.
  • Independent Professional in the Temporary Work - International Agreement route.

 Overseas nationals with existing leave to remain under the Intra Company Transfer route and the Sole Representative route will be able to extend their leave and/or settle where this is permitted by the existing Rules.

New routes

The Global Business Mobility routes are designed to enable overseas businesses to establish a UK presence and/or to transfer staff to the UK, on a long term or temporary basis. There will be five subcategories of the Global Business Mobility route, four replacing the routes which are closing and a new route for secondees from overseas businesses.

Global Business Mobility - Senior or Specialist Worker 

Under this route senior managers and specialist employees of an overseas business can be assigned to a UK business which is linked to their overseas employer. This route replaces the Intra Company Transfer visa route. Dependant partners and children are permitted to accompany or join a main applicant. This route does not lead to settlement. 

Global Business Mobility - Graduate Trainee 

Overseas migrants on graduate training courses leading to senior management or specialist positions, who are required to do a work placement in the UK, will now be permitted to do so on a temporary basis. This route replaces the Intra Company Transfer Graduate Trainee route.

Global Business Mobility - UK Expansion Worker

The UK Expansion Worker visa is designed to enable a senior manager or specialist employee to come to the UK to undertake work related to their overseas business' expansion in the UK, such as work involved in establishing a UK based entity of an overseas group. Crucially, the UK business cannot yet have started to trade in the UK. This replaces the Sole Representative route.

Global Business Mobility - Service Supplier

Overseas workers undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK as overseas employed contractual service suppliers or self-employed overseas independent professionals will be able to come to the UK to undertake their assignments under the Service Supplier route. Services must however be covered by one of the UK's international trade commitments. Dependants are permitted to accompany and join the main applicant. This replaces the contractual service supplier and independent professional provisions in the Temporary Work - International Agreement route.

Global Business Mobility - Secondment Worker

A new visa has been established to allow workers to be seconded to the UK temporarily as part of a high value contract or investment by their overseas employer. Dependant partners and children are permitted to join applicants. This route will not lead to settlement. 

High Potential Individual

A new route has been created for recent graduates from one of the top global universities to come to the UK to work or look for work following the successful completion of their undergraduate or post graduate degree course. Only graduates who have studied at an institute listed on the Global Universities List, as published by the Home Office, will be eligible to apply under this route. Visas will be granted for 2 years for applicants relying on a bachelor's or Master's degree and 3 years for those relying on a PhD level qualification.  The advantage of this route for overseas nationals is they do not need to be sponsored by a licence holding company and can use the route to look for work in the UK and gain a useful foothold in the UK job market, without the restrictions of sponsored employment.


The Scale-Up visa offers a visa route to those with the required skills needed to enable a recognised UK Scale-Up business to continue growing. To be recognised as a Scale Up, the UK business will need to have annualised growth of at least 20% for the previous 3 year period and at least 10 employees at the start of the 3 year period. All sponsored roles will be required to be at graduate level or above with a proposed minimum salary of £33,000 gross per annum or the going rate for the role, whichever is higher. In a departure from traditional work visa routes, a Scale Up visa holder will be required to work for their sponsor for the first 6 months of their leave to remain but will then be permitted to work full time at any skill level, with their visa no longer being tied to their sponsoring employer. Initial leave to remain will be granted for a period of 2 years with the option to extend for a further 3 year period and to settle after a period of 5 years in this route....And finally, for the immigration geeks out there, we spotted this in the Statement of Changes to the Immigration Rules...INTRO1. In paragraph 6.2, for the definition of “Certificate of Sponsorship” substitute:““Certificate of Sponsorship” means either:(a) an electronic document with a unique reference number issued by a sponsor via the Sponsor Management System, or(b) confirmation of sponsorship, issued by a sponsor using the successor to the Sponsorship Management System, that confirms the details of the job for which the sponsor is sponsoring the applicant.”.It looks as though we are about to witness the first beta testing stage of the SMS's successor, which based on past experience of Home Office systems development, may well remain in a beta testing phase for the coming decade.

If you would like to know more about any of the new routes, please contact any member of Freeths' immigration team at !


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

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