Three new visa routes – the Global Business Mobility, High Potential Individual and Scale-up visa routes – have been launched by the UK government this year. These new immigration routes are aimed at attracting and retaining global talent to the UK as well as helping businesses fill labour shortages left by Brexit. Below, we summarise the main points of each new route.

Global Business Mobility visa routes

This is a new category of sponsored routes for overseas businesses seeking to establish a presence in, or transfer staff to, the UK for specific business purposes.

There are five categories under this route:

  • Graduate Trainee. This replaces the Intra-Company Trainee route and is for workers undertaking a UK-based work placement as part of a graduate training course, with a view to leading on to a senior management or specialist position.
  • Secondment Worker. This is a new route designed for workers coming to the UK on short-term secondment as part of a high value contract or investment by their overseas employers.
  • UK Expansion Worker. Replacing the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business visa category, this route allows senior staff to come to the UK for a limited period of time to work on their organisation’s expansion plans in the UK. To be eligible for this route, the organisation must not be already trading in the UK.
  • Service Supplier. This route is intended for overseas workers assigned to the UK to provide services covered by one of the UK’s international trade agreements. The individual must be either a contractual service supplier employed by an overseas business or a self-employed independent professional overseas.
  • Senior or Specialist Worker. This is for senior manager or specialist employees being deployed to a UK business linked to their overseas employer.

The Global Business Mobility routes opened on 11 April 2020 and do not lead to settlement nor will permission in these routes count towards the qualifying period of stay required to settle in the UK.

High Potential Individual visa

This is a new route aimed to attract the brightest and best international talent to the UK.

It enables international graduates from a top 50 global university, as published in the global universities list by the Home Office, to enter the UK without a job offer.

A visa can be granted for up to two years, or three years if the applicant holds a qualification equivalent to a UK PhD. Under this route, dependants are eligible to apply to accompany the main applicant and High Potential Individual (HPI) visa holders can be employed or self-employed once in the UK. The applicant will, however, still require a minimum level of English and maintenance funds.

The HPI visa route will be beneficial to businesses as it provides an alternative to costly sponsorships and offers a faster route for new hires.

This route was introduced on 30 May 2022 and is not a direct route to settlement.

Scale-up visa

This route is aimed at highly skilled individuals who can support the growth of UK scale-up businesses.

Under this route, applicants at RQF level 6 (degree level) can be sponsored by a UK company that meets the definition of a scale-up. The applicant must, however, hold a job offer from that company at the required salary level of £33,000 per year or more.

To qualify as scale-up company, a business will need to show they have:

  • an annualised growth of at least 20% for the previous 3-year period in terms of turnover or staffing
  • a minimum of ten employees at the start of the three year period.

This route offers a more flexible work visa than other routes as it only requires the applicant to work for the sponsoring company for an initial six-month period. After this time, they can continue to work for their sponsor, undertake additional work, or chose to work for another employer in an unsponsored role.

The initial visa will be granted for two years, after which an extension for three years can be applied for.

This route opened on 22 August 2022 and allows applicants and any qualifying family members to apply for permanent residence after five years of continuous residence in the UK provided they meet all the other eligibility requirements.

[If you would like to know more about any of the new routes, please feel free to contact us by telephone on or by email.]