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New Global Business Mobility visa could be blocking talent

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The introduction of a Global Business Mobility visa for foreign workers is a step in the right direction, but it may need reform to effectively attract overseas talent to the UK.

The new visa was introduced in April, and is designed as a way for overseas workers to settle in the UK post brexit.

Yet Bhavneeta Limbachia, immigration team associate at law firm Russell-Cooke, said that the visas may not give people a chance to settle properly in the country. 

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "The new Global Business Mobility visas promise an overhaul of a number of immigration routes for businesses transferring staff to the UK.

"It does provide more options to send overseas employees to the UK, but with the caveat that these routes do not lead to settlement, which may be a deterrent for some."


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Global Business Mobility visas currently offer people from overseas five routes for working in the UK: as specialist workers; graduate trainees as part of a training programme, those on secondment, and service suppliers or UK expansion workers, which requires setting up a subsidiary.

Firms who already have a presence in the UK can make use of specialist workers and graduate trainees, while companies with no established foothold in the country can make use of service suppliers and expansion workers. Secondment workers remain an option for both types of business.

Limbachia added: "The most fascinating or contentious of all is the UK expansion route as the procedure to send employees to the UK to set up a subsidiary is complex; perhaps due to the added burden of adhering to the sponsorship requirements and duties. It will be interesting to see how the popularity of these new routes develops over time."

Other elements of the scheme are also restrictive according to Tania Bowers, global public policy director at recruitment trade body the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).

While acknowledging the merits of the scheme, Bowers argued that it does no do enough to entice highly skilled contractors and independent workers to the UK.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: "Under the requirements, there needs to be a contract in place before the client can sponsor a visa, applicants will need to go through a procurement process to show it is a genuine contract and then the visa itself will be subject to a time limit which is usually around six months.

"The restrictive nature of the process means that the time contractors will need to invest into simply securing a visa simply isn’t worthwhile."

Bowers also emphasised the importance of British workers being allowed to develop their skills in different countries. 

She continued: "As much as the UK needs more highly skilled experts, British nationals also need – and want – international contract opportunities and allowing global mobility will help to develop skills in British nationals too.

"The UK needs a dynamic, flexible and global workforce, and while the Global Business Mobility visa shows some promising signs, it doesn’t provide the solutions that are necessary for today’s labour market."