Complete Guide to the UK Service Supplier Visa (GMB Category)

Navigating the intricacies of the “UK Service Supplier Visa” under the Global Business Mobility (GBM) category can seem daunting. This specialized visa serves overseas service suppliers who aim to operate within the UK’s dynamic marketplace. Our comprehensive guide dives deep into the complex requirements set forth by the Home Office and elucidates the entire application process. Whether you’re embarking on your first application or are looking to renew, this guide aims to streamline your immigration journey.

GBM Service Supplier Visa UK
The UK Service Supplier Visa: A Gateway to Business Mobility and International Collaboration in the United Kingdom.

1. UK Service Supplier Visa: A Primer for Overseas Professionals

Considering a short-term work assignment in the UK? The Service Supplier route could be your gateway.

Introducing The UK Service Supplier Visa

Launched on 11 April 2022, the UK Service Supplier visa is part of the novel Global Business Mobility (GBM) immigration strategy. Tailored for employees of foreign service providers and self-established experts outside the UK, this visa paves the way for individuals to deliver services in the UK, in accordance with the nation’s international trade agreements.

Evolved from the prior provisions for contractual service suppliers and independent professionals under the International Agreement route, this visa offers a streamlined avenue for service professionals eager to contribute to the UK.

As a visa holder, you can deliver the specific services you applied for, but taking on secondary employment in the UK is off-limits. On the upside, you’re free to volunteer, pursue educational opportunities, and travel internationally, with the privilege to re-enter the UK within the visa’s validity.

Seeking a short-term work assignment in the UK? The Service Supplier route might be your key.

2. Overview of the Global Business Mobility – Service Supplier Visa

Keen on the UK Service Supplier visa? Start by grasping the essential criteria.

General Eligibility:

  • Contract: Must hold a service contract with a UK company that’s consistent with an international trade agreement.
  • Applicant’s Status: Either an overseas company employee or a self-established service provider from an eligible trade agreement country.
  • UK Sponsorship: Must offer services to a Home Office-endorsed UK entity and possess a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) highlighting the intended role in the UK.
  • Occupational Eligibility: Must belong to a profession recognized by the GBM table or have the necessary qualifications and experience.
  • Prior Work Experience: Need a work history of 12 months with the current foreign employer or, for the self-employed, in the relevant domain.

Qualification Insights:

  • General: Typically, a bachelor’s degree or its technical counterpart is required. Professional experience prerequisites differ for employees and the self-employed.
  • Specific Roles:
    • Fashion, Modelling, Entertainment: No specified qualifications.
    • Chef de cuisine: An advanced technical degree is mandatory.
    • Management Consulting, Technical Testing, Analysis: Bachelor’s qualification or an equivalent technical certification.
    • Advertising, Translation: Must have related professional qualifications.

Financial Requirement: Demonstrate financial stability of at least £1,270 for 28 continuous days. However, if they’ve stayed in the UK for over a year with a valid visa or have a UK Service Supplier sponsor covering initial costs, this stipulation can be bypassed.

Switching to the Service Supplier Route: Switching while in the UK is feasible, barring specific visa holders like short-term students or visitors. Individuals in these categories must make their applications from outside the UK.

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    3. UK Service Supplier Visa: Key Eligibility Criteria

    Nationality And Residence Requirements:

    • Primary Nationality Requirement: Applicants should hail from the country or territory where their overseas company is based.
    • International Agreements: Rules can differ, contingent on the specific international agreement. For instance, permanent residents from countries adhering to the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) may qualify. Nevertheless, an initial nod from the Home Office is essential.

    Overseas Work Requirement:

    • Current Employment Status: Applicants must be actively affiliated with the foreign service provider, with a minimum of 12 consecutive months of overseas work.
    • Evidence of Employment: Payroll details are primary evidence. If payslips are missing, bank statements showing salary credits might suffice. Discrepancies in payslips demand meticulous scrutiny, focusing on the applicant’s employment relationship.

    Qualification Requirement:

    • Option A: As elucidated in Paragraphs SSU 6.1 to 6.6. The role should align with a category from the Appendix Skilled Occupations under the Global Business Mobility framework.
    • Option B: Based on Paragraphs SSU 7.1 to 7.5, eligibility can be attained with a university degree or an analogous technical qualification, except for six specific exceptions. Professionals in ‘technical testing and analysis’ need a minimum of three years’ sector experience.

    Genuineness Requirement:

    • Core Intention: The aspiration should be genuine to undertake the sponsored role.
    • Assessment: The Home Office wields the discretion to assess the application’s authenticity. This can lead to document requisitions, queries, and possible delays. Starting preparations early is prudent.

    Example Scenario: To elucidate, imagine AeroTech Innovations Ltd.’s initiative to dispatch Adrian, Sophia, and Liam to the UK. Their roles, qualifications, and probable hurdles illustrate the procedure’s nuance and emphasize the importance of diligent preparations.

    4. UK Service Supplier Visa: Sponsorship Essentials

    A successful sponsorship hinges on the following prerequisites:

    • Sponsor Prerequisites:
      • Approved Business: The sponsor should be a Home Office approved business with authority to endorse this worker category.
      • Eligible Contract: The sponsoring company must possess a contract with an overseas service provider in line with a pertinent UK trade commitment.
    • Overseas Service Provider Definition: It’s a business, even a self-employed professional’s operation, located outside the UK. Such businesses should lack a commercial footprint in the UK but maintain a service contract with the sponsoring UK entity.
    • Contract Registration: The UK sponsor must record any contracts with the foreign enterprise through which they plan to endorse Service Suppliers. This registration is a crucial step during their licence application via their SMS account.
    • Transitional Arrangements:
      • For sponsors previously involved with the International Agreement route:
        1. If they’ve used their licence post-11 April 2018 to endorse a service supplier or independent professional, the UK Service Supplier route should automatically integrate with their existing licence.
        2. If sponsors haven’t utilized their International Agreement licence post-11 April 2018 for such roles, they either must add the Service Supplier route or reapply if the former licence has lapsed.

    5. UK Service Supplier Visa: Application Process & Key Details

    • Application Steps:
      1. Apply online using the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) reference number.
      2. Verify identity, possibly by attending an appointment.
      3. Provide biometric details: fingerprint scans and a facial photograph.
      4. Submit relevant documentation, including:
        • Valid passport/travel document.
        • Proof of personal savings.
        • Evidence of overseas employment (12 months prior).
        • Degree/qualification certificates.
        • Tuberculosis test results (if from a listed country).
    • Application Timeline:
      • Apply up to 3 months before the job start date indicated on the CoS.
      • Submit the visa application within 3 months of receiving the CoS.
      • Typical decision timeframe: 3 weeks (outside the UK) or 8 weeks (inside the UK).
    • Application Costs:
      • Visa application fee: £259.
      • Annual healthcare surcharge: £624.
      • Total costs will be provided during the application process.
    • Visa Duration:
      • Stay duration: 6 or 12 months per assignment (based on the trade agreement).
      • Maximum cumulative stay: 5 years in any 6-year period.
    • Dependants:
      • Eligibility: Spouses/partners and dependent children.
      • Application includes:
        • Separate application fee and healthcare surcharge.
        • Financial proofs:
          • Spouse/partner: £285.
          • First child: £315.
          • Additional children: £200 each.

    6. UK Service Supplier Visa FAQs

    What is the UK Service Supplier visa?

    The UK Service Supplier visa is designed for contractual service suppliers from overseas or self-employed independent professionals who need to temporarily provide services in the UK under an international trade agreement.

    Do applicants need sponsorship for the UK Service Supplier visa?

    Yes, to be eligible, the applicant must provide a service to a UK business under a contract covered by an international trade agreement. The UK business must be a Home Office approved sponsor.

    How much does it cost to apply for the UK Service Supplier visa?

    The application fee is £259. Additionally, applicants usually need to pay an immigration health surcharge of £624 for each year of their stay in the UK.

    How can a business obtain the right to sponsor a Service Supplier?

    Businesses need a Global Business Mobility – Service Supplier Sponsor Licence from the Home Office. This involves showing relevant documentation, making a business case, and ensuring compliance with immigration requirements.

    What if a Service Supplier visa application is refused?

    If an application is declined, applicants can seek advice on reapplying or challenging the decision. If the decision was made in error, they can request an Administrative Review. In cases of unlawfulness or procedural impropriety, they can apply for a Judicial Review.

    How does the UK Service Supplier visa differ from the Skilled Worker Visa?

    The Skilled Worker Visa is for individuals with a job offer in a skilled role from a Home Office-approved sponsor in the UK. It leads to potential settlement and allows dependents. Requirements include age, a valid Certificate of Sponsorship, genuine job vacancy, appropriate skill level, English proficiency, salary meeting certain thresholds, self-sustainability, and possibly criminal and TB checks.

    Can dependents accompany a UK Service Supplier visa holder to the UK?

    Yes, spouses, partners, and dependent children can apply to join the primary visa holder, provided they meet the eligibility criteria, including relationship and financial requirements.

    How long can someone stay in the UK with a Service Supplier visa?

    Visa holders can stay for up to either 6 or 12 months per assignment, based on the trade agreement. They can undertake multiple assignments but are limited to a cumulative maximum of 5 years within a 6-year period.

    7. Conclusion

    The UK Service Supplier visa offers a robust avenue for overseas contractual service suppliers and self-employed professionals to temporarily render services in the UK under international trade agreements. Key to this is a legitimate contract with a Home Office approved sponsor, a criterion that underscores the integrity of the visa process. With an application fee set at £259 and an annual health surcharge, the visa balances accessibility with state welfare considerations.

    While its duration varies, the overarching framework ensures that the visa complements the UK’s international trade obligations and contributes to the nation’s economic vibrancy. For businesses and individuals alike, understanding the nuances of this visa, juxtaposed with others like the Skilled Worker Visa, can pave the way for fruitful collaboration and continued professional growth within the UK. As global business dynamics evolve, the UK Service Supplier visa stands as a testament to the country’s commitment to fostering international partnerships and promoting business mobility.

    For further details please refer to Immigration Rules Appendix Global Business Mobility routes.