Inner Hero banner Image

Service Suppliers

Service Supplier – Key Features

Since Brexit, it has been more difficult for overseas businesses to navigate the UK immigration system. It can be particularly difficult for an overseas business, independent professional and other self-employed overseas nationals to understand whether they can deliver services to a UK company and how to go about doing this.

The Service Supplier visa provides a route for doing this, but only for contracts which fall under an eligible international trade agreement. Under this visa route employees of an overseas service provider, self-employed people established outside the UK and independent professionals can come to the UK for a temporary period to deliver the required services under the contract.

Before applying for a Service Supplier visa, the UK contracting party must secure a sponsor licence in this category from the Home Office, unless a licence is already held. Once the UK party is licensed, they will be able to issue a certificate of sponsorship to the overseas national who is proposing to deliver services under the contract. The UK sponsor must register the contract they have under which they intend to sponsor overseas service suppliers. The sponsor can only assign a certificate to a worker who is coming to the UK to fulfil that specific contract and no others.

To be successful, the overseas national must be proposing to undertake an eligible role in the UK, as defined by the Home Office, or they must have they must have relevant qualifications and experience. They would usually need at least a bachelor’s degree or higher, or a technical qualification equivalent to a bachelor’s degree. They may also need 3 years’ professional experience if they are employed by an overseas employee or 6 years’ professional experience if self-employed. There are also industry specific variations, with some industry not requiring relevant qualifications:

  • Fashion and modelling: no qualifications required
  • Chef de cuisine: an advanced technical qualification
  • Entertainment services: no qualifications required
  • Advertising or translation: relevant qualifications

team of immigration specialists can guide you through the process, talking you through the requirements and ensuring that you can meet these in full.

Length and conditions of grant

Depending on the trade agreement that they are providing services under, Service Suppliers can come to the UK for up to either 6 or 12 months per assignment. They can return to the UK for further assignments, but they can only stay for a maximum period of 5 years in any 6-year period under any of the Global Business Mobility routes, combined.
This route does not lead to settlement but can be added to other visas as a route to settlement or used as part of the cumulative 10-year period required for settlement based on long residence.
Service Supplier visa holders can deliver the services as specified in their contract with the UK company. They cannot take an additional job, but they can undertake voluntary work and study. They can travel abroad and return to the UK within the validity period of their visa.

This route allows dependants to accompany or join the main visa holder in the UK.

How can Freeths help?

Freeths’ business immigration specialists can support both the UK contracting party to secure the required licence and the overseas national to secure visa clearance. At the outset, we would assess the contract, role, and eligibility of both parties to ensure a successful outcome. With our support, we can ensure that vital time is not lost in dealing with the UK immigration system, and the contract is able to be delivered in the UK in good time.

Our fees are transparent. We offer a fair pricing structure which will be agreed with you at the outset, giving you certainty about the overall cost of the end-to-end process.

If you would like to know more about the Service Supplier visa route, or need help with an application, please contact our immigration team, who are on hand to help.

Contact our business immigration team:


  • JZ

    "The service you provided was perfect. I would definitely use your company again. Thank you"

    Junping Zhang

  • LC

    “The Business Immigration team’s support has been invaluable to the University over a number of years, and in particular lately on Brexit, enabling...

    Lisa Courtney, University of Leeds

  • "Excellent support from the Freeths team. They have been able to answer all of our queries and provide the best advice in the given situation."

    The Legal 500, 2024

  • "We have worked with Freeths for in excess of 20 years. They have taken time to fully understand our business, how we work and what our standards a...

    The Legal 500, 2023

  • “I have always been happy with the advice and support received.”

    Chambers & Partners, 2023

Related news & articles

1 of 1
  • News

    The Home Office accepts recommendations for improvements to the immigration system in the social care sector.

  • News

    Confirmation of the Skilled Worker Changes 2024

  • News

    Citizens Advice raises concerns about exploitation in the care sector

  • News

    Government Commissions Review of Graduate Route Visa

  • News

    The UK’s Wholly Digital Immigration System

  • News

    Update on skilled worker minimum salary increase

  • News

    Right to work penalties are set to triple

  • News

    Is this the end of the shortage occupation list

  • News

    UK government announces new measures to cut migration

  • News

    Digitalisation of the UK’s Immigration System - eVisa

  • News

    The Immigration Health Surcharge is set to increase significantly

  • News

    Penalties for employing illegal workers set to triple in 2024

Get in touch

Contact us today

Whatever your legal needs, our wide ranging expertise is here to support you and your business, so let’s start your legal journey today and get you in touch with the right lawyer to get you started.


Get in touch

For general enquiries, please complete this form and we will direct your message to the most appropriate person.