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How to apply for a Global Business Mobility: Secondment Worker visa

The Global Business Mobility: Secondment Worker visa route is for overseas workers who are undertaking temporary assignments in the UK. The worker must be seconded to the UK as part of a high value contract or investment by their employer overseas.

The Global Business Mobility umbrella was launched on 11 April 2022 and contains five immigration routes. Some of these are rebranded versions of pre-existing routes and others are new. The Global Business Mobility Secondment Worker visa is one of the new routes. It is not particularly popular and is very much seen as a ‘last resort visa’, which is evidenced by the number of applications by businesses to apply for a sponsor licence in order to sponsor workers under the route. At the time of writing, of the 81,000 or so sponsor licence holders on the Register of Worker and Temporary Workers, there are only four sponsors who hold a licence in the Secondment Worker route.

Dependent family members can apply to come to the UK in this route but it does not lead to settlement.

Why is the Global Business Mobility seconded worker visa route useful?

For the sponsor, the best thing about the route is that there is no Immigration Skills Charge (currently £1,000 per year per worker) and no general salary or a going rate requirement. The worker must of course be paid in line with UK National Minimum wage legislation, though.

For the applicant, there is no English language requirement. As we shall see though, the applicant must have been working for a linked company overseas for a minimum length of time before they are eligible and they must be skilled to graduate level (RQF Level 6) or above.

What are the requirements for a Global Business Mobility seconded worker visa?

The applicant must be awarded 40 points based on the table below:

Points requirements

Relevant rules



SEC 5.1. to SEC 5.7.


Job at an appropriate skill level

SEC 6.1. to SEC 6.6.


Points for sponsorship are explained with context under ‘requirements for the UK sponsor’ and points for skill level are explained under ‘requirements for the applicant’.

Requirements for the UK sponsor

Having a licence

The UK sponsor must have an A-rated, Global Business Mobility: Secondment Worker sponsor licence. Applying for a sponsor licence is beyond the scope of this article, but there is detailed guidance on the Home Office website.

Having a qualifying overseas business link and an eligible contract approved by the Home Office

The sponsor must have an eligible contract with an overseas business for goods or investment worth at least £10 million per year (and no less than £50 million in total). This is defined in the sponsor guidance. In short, if the duration of the contract is less than five years, the contract must be valued at least £50 million. If the contract is five years or more, it must be worth at least £10 million per year. If the contract has no specified end date, it must be worth at least £50 million over the first five years.

When applying for a sponsor licence, the sponsor will submit evidence of the contract with the licence application. Once the licence is approved, a sponsor can only assign Certificates of Sponsorship (often referred to as a ‘CoS’) to workers who are working under that specific contract. This means that if a sponsor wants to assign subsequent certificate of sponsorship to workers from another overseas business, they must submit a new contract to the Home Office and await approval. Each contract must be approved before certificate of sponsorship can be assigned. The Home Office take this requirement very seriously and will revoke the sponsor licence if the sponsor does not comply.


Field Rover make cars and they want to bring expertise to their business from a Japanese electric car company, Electrocar. They apply for a licence and submit the contract with Electrocar. The workers apply for their Secondment visas and are successful.

A year later, Field Rover want to do something similar with a Chinese company, Fastcar. Field Rover cannot start assigning CoS to workers from Fastcar just because they already hold a Secondment Worker sponsor licence. They must first submit evidence of the contract with Fastcar that demonstrates that the requirements are met. The Home Office must approve the contract and the CoS allocation before Field Rover can assign a CoS to a worker from Fastcar.

To submit a new contract, sponsors must use the ‘Request change of circumstances function’ in their SMS account and request an increase in certificates of sponsorship allocation. The Home Office must approve the contract and the allocation before the sponsor can assign a certificate of sponsorship.

The Home Office take this requirement very seriously. They will revoke the sponsor licence if the sponsor assigns a certificate of sponsorship in connection with a contract that hasn’t been submitted or that has been submitted but has not yet been approved or that the Home Office has said doesn’t meet the requirements.

Assigning a valid Certificate of Sponsorship

Failure to draft and assign the certificate of sponsorship correctly is very likely to result in a refusal. There are a few key differences compared to a Skilled Worker and Senior or Specialist Worker certificate of sponsorship, explained below.

  1. An undefined certificate of sponsorship is required for entry clearance applications.
  2. The role summary should specifically state that that they are being sponsored on the Secondment Worker route.
  3. Select a suitable SOC Code (more on this below).
  4. If the UK sponsor is not paying the salary, this must be entered as £0.01 and details of the payment arrangements must be explained in the free text box below the salary field.
  5. You must provide the details of the specific contract such as the name and duration of the contract.
  6. Maintenance is usually certified on the certificate of sponsorship, primarily to keep the list of supporting documents to a minimum.

Requirements for the seconded worker

The worker must meet the validity, suitability and eligibility requirements. We’ll do a quick tour through the validity and suitability requirements first, then focus on the detail under the eligibility requirements.

Validity requirement

The validity requirements are similar to the requirements for most points based system routes under the new immigration system. The applicant must submit a valid visa application and pay the required application fee, Immigration Health Surcharge (if applicable), enrol their biometrics, submit their documents and have an assigned certificate of sponsorship issued no more than three months before the date of application. Those who are eligible to do so can apply using the UK Immigration: ID check app.

You can switch into this route provided you were not last here on a short-term visa such as a visitor, seasonal worker or short-term student.

Suitability requirement

The applicant must not fall for refusal under the grounds for refusal in Part 9 of the Immigration Rules. If applying for permission to stay, they mustn’t be in breach of immigration laws except for the usual paragraph 39E (which contains exceptions for overstayers) and they must not be on immigration bail.

Overseas work requirement

For entry-clearance applications, the applicant must be working for the overseas business outside the UK for a cumulative period of at least 12 months.

This requirement does not apply to anyone submitting an application for permission to stay, if they are extending their visa in the route and are continuing to work for the same sponsor in their last grant of permission.

Applicants are not required to submit evidence with their application, but the Home Office reserve the right to ask for it. As these applications are typically time sensitive, you may wish to submit the evidence anyway to avoid any delays. Evidence includes payslips and, if these are issued electronically, a payslip authentication letter on letterheaded paper.

Skill level requirement

The applicant must be sponsored in a graduate-level role (at RQF Level 6) from Appendix Skilled Occupations and it must be eligible for the Global Business Mobility routes. You’ll see the far-right hand column of Table 1 confirms eligibility or not.

The sponsor is warned in the Immigration Rules at paragraphs SEC 6.1 to SEC 6.6 that they must select an appropriate code and shouldn’t choose a less appropriate code because it is eligible for the route. The sponsor is informed that they could be subject to scrutiny by the decision-maker who may consider whether there is a genuine need for the role as well as the applicant’s skills, qualifications and experience. They may also review the sponsor’s previous track record of compliance.

Genuineness requirement

Finally, the applicant must genuinely intend to perform the role they are being sponsored to do.

When this route is all about securing certainty of a supply of labour to the UK sponsor, the last thing you want is a genuineness requirement. The Home Office can subjectively assess the entire application, request more documents, ask questions and cause delays.

Because of this, it is wise to prepare months in advance to gather all the required evidence (while heeding the time-sensitive documentary requirements of course).

How much does a Global Business Mobility secondment worker visa cost?

There is no Immigration Skills Charge, which is a relief to sponsors. If the worker is applying for entry clearance for a period of less than six months, they will also be exempt from the Immigration Health Surcharge.

For an entry-clearance application for a duration of less than 6 months, fees are currently as follows:

  • Application fee: £259
  • Certificate of Sponsorship: £21
  • Any priority processing fees: Approx. £250

Note that there has been a recent announcement reporting a hike in immigration fees. Look out for updates on Free Movement.

What do successful Global Business Mobility secondment worker visa applicants get?

Those applying for entry-clearance will get an approval email and a 90-day visa sticker. The worker must travel to the UK before that period is up and will most likely travel to arrive in line with the start date stated on their CoS and as per the UK sponsors timeline for completion of the work.

After arriving, if the length of stay is more than six months, the worker will be issued with a Biometric Residence Permit. Anyone applying using the UK Immigration app will receive digital immigration status instead of a physical permit. If applying for permission to stay, what they’ll get will usually depend on their nationality and whether they had a BRP before.

The UK sponsor should complete a right to work check before the worker’s first day of employment as stated on their Certificate of Sponsorship.

How long is a Global Business Mobility secondment worker visa?

An applicant will be issued a visa for either one year or, if the secondment is less than one year, the length of the job duration stated on the certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days. It is possible to extend but only up to a total period of two years. An applicant cannot be granted cumulative periods of permission on the Global Business Mobility visa routes totalling more than five years in any six year period.

It is important to check whether the worker has had previous permission on any of the Global Business Mobility visa routes, as this will determine how long they can be granted for.

Workers on all Global Business Mobility visa routes should be reminded that they will only ever have temporary permission to be in the UK, unless they switch into a route that does permit settlement.

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Pip Hague

Pip Hague is a Senior Practice Development Lawyer at Lewis Silkin.