2023 visa routes to the UK

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There are various “work visa” categories in the UK, many of which require sponsoring by a business with a relevant sponsor licence. Since the sponsor licence system was first introduced in 2008, these visa categories have evolved. Some have been renamed, eligibility requirements have changed, and some have been abolished completely. We have created an easy-to-understand comparison of the complex system of work visas currently operating in the UK and their relevant requirements.

2023 Sponsored Work Visa Routes

Skilled Worker Visa

The Skilled Worker Visa has replaced the Tier 2 (General) Visa.

Visa changes 2023:

There is no longer a specific resident labour market test to undertake, though there is still a “genuineness” test. There must be a real business need for the hire of the individual and the individual must have been identified via an objective, sensible recruitment process. They must also have the skills and experience that are genuinely required for the role.

Scale Up Visa

The Scale-up route is a new category.

This category is aimed at talented individuals recruited by a UK business that meets the definition of a qualifying Scale-up sponsor.

Global Business Mobility Visa Routes

Introduced in April 2022, this category replaced (for new applicants), the previous intra-company transfer (ICT) categories and the “sole representative of an overseas business” category.

The GBM categories are aimed at overseas businesses temporarily transferring staff to the UK to set up a business presence or facilitate a specific business purpose.

There is a general rule that individuals can spend no more than the “maximum cumulative period” in all of the GBM sub-categories which is 5 years in any 6 year period or 9 years in any 10 year period (if you are paid £73,00 or more per year). However, each of the GBM sub-categories has its own visa length as show in the comparison table.

The GBM routes do not lead to settlement i.e. indefinite leave to remain.

Global Business Mobility Senior/Specialist Worker

This replaced the ICT visa. The main difference is that the minimum salary for the role in the UK is now higher (having increased from £41,500 p.a to £42,400 p.a). Like its predecessor, the individual must have worked for a sponsor group company overseas for at least 12 months (unless they earn more than £73,900 p.a, in which case there is no minimum service requirement) prior to the application.

Global Business Mobility Graduate Trainee

This replaces the ICT Graduate Trainee route. The minimum salary threshold for graduate trainees is £23,100 per year (or the minimum rate under the relevant SOC code, whichever is higher) an increase from £23,000 under the previous “ICT – Graduate Trainee category). There is also no longer a limit on the number of Certificates of Sponsorship t that you can assign on this route (the limit was previously 20 per financial year).

Global Business Mobility UK Expansion Worker Visa

The GBM UK Expansion Worker Visa replaces the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business (though the previous category remains open for extensions).

Visa changes 2023:

Unlike the previous “sole representative” category, the UK Expansion Worker route requires the worker to have a  sponsor and the sponsor must exist but not yet be trading in the UK. The sponsor will be a branch or wholly owned subsidiary of an established overseas business. It is important to note that the sponsor will be required to demonstrate their UK footprint (though they must not yet be trading), credible expansion plans and requisite overseas trading presence prior to being granted a sponsor licence in this category.

Global Business Mobility Service Supplier Visa

This has replaced the Temporary Work – International Agreement Visa Route for contractual service suppliers and independent professionals.

Visa changes 2023:

The main difference between the GBM Service Supplier route and the previous route is the requirement to register details of any eligible contracts, and the overseas service provider with whom you have that contract, when you apply for your licence.

Sub-contracting is expressly permitted, provided there is a clear contractual link between you, the sub-contractor and the overseas service provider. The role being performed must have a “SOC code” listed in Appendix ‘Skilled Occupations’ as eligible for the GBM route, or, in some cases, the applicant must have a university degree or equivalent technical qualification.

There is a minimum 12 month prior work requirement for the overseas service provider. There is no minimum salary requirement.

Global Business Mobility Secondment Worker Visa

This is a new category for overseas workers who are being seconded to the UK, under a temporary work assignment, as part of a high value contract or investment by their employer overseas.

2023 Non-sponsored Work Visa Routes

High Potential Individual Visa

This is a new category but it bears some similarity to a now, prehistoric Tier 1 (General) category from many years ago. The High Potential Individual route is a new route aimed at attracting “the brightest and best” to the UK.

Graduate Visa

This is a relatively new category but has some similarities with previous “post-study worker” categories. To allow foreign students time to find a job in the UK following their degree.


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