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Investment Residency

UK Service Supplier Visa: The Ultimate Guide

Updated: 17 January 2023

The UK Service Supplier Visa is a type of permit that allows contractual service suppliers to conduct temporary assignments overseas upon recruitment by a service provider or an independent professional in that particular location. 

Although it may allow you to shift to an immigrant visa option, the UK Service Supplier Visa is not a direct route to residency in the UK. If you’re not looking for a direct route to settlement in the UK but rather a temporary work visa, you can apply for the UK Service Supplier Visa. 

Read on to learn more about the Service Supplier route.

This guide includes:

What Is the UK Service Supplier Visa?

The UK Service Supplier Visa is a type of Global Business Mobility Visa (GBM) that allows foreigners employed by service providers or independent professionals to temporarily work overseas in the UK. Such a permit is applicable on the condition that the supply services are included in the UK’s coverage of international trade agreements.

The UK Service Supplier Visa only allows the holder to complete the work specified in the application. When they finalize providing the said services, they cannot take up another job inside the UK. However, if the validity period of the UK Service Supplier Visa is yet to be concluded, they can take courses or do voluntary work inside the UK until the expiration of their visa.

Benefits of UK Expansion Worker Visa

The Global Business Mobility Visa Service Supplier route allows you to do the following: 

  • Entering the UK 
  • Providing the services relevant to the application
  • Undertaking voluntary work in the UK during the validity of your leave 
  • Taking a course of study during the validity of your leave
  • Traveling abroad and returning to the UK
  • Bringing along your eligible partner/spouse and dependent children to the UK

Eligibility for UK Service Supplier Visa

There are some criteria you’re required to meet to become an eligible applicant for the UK Service Supplier visa. These criteria are as follows: 

  • Being employed by a business or an independent professional overseas
  • Providing contracted service that’s specified in an international trade agreement to a business in the UK
  • Having a certificate of sponsorship provided by your UK sponsor that includes the information about your assignment in the UK 
  • Doing an eligible job/having the required experience and qualifications
  • Having a minimum of 12 months of professional experience/having worked outside the UK for your employer for at least 12 months 

Service Supplier Visa: Family Inclusion 

The dependents—spouse, unmarried children under 18, and unmarried dependent children over 18—of a UK Service Supplier Visa holder can apply for the same route so long as they meet the financial and relationship requirements. Each dependent of the Service Supplier needs to pay the annual healthcare surcharges, as well as the separate application fees.

Unless the living costs of the dependents are covered by the Service Supplier’s sponsor during their stay in the UK, or the applicant has been legally staying in the UK for a minimum of 12 months, proof of funds will be required for the dependents to be eligible for application.

If the applications of the dependents are approved, the validity of their visa expires on the same date as the primary applicant.

UK Service Supplier Visa: Application Steps

You need to make an online application using the reference number of your Certificate of Sponsorship to obtain a UK Service Supplier Visa. In this application, you’re required to provide your identity information, various supporting documents, and biometric information, including a passport-style photograph and your fingerprint scans. You may need to arrange and attend an appointment to complete this process. 

Although the required documentation may vary depending on the characteristics of the application, a valid passport or another travel document proving the nationality and identity of the applicant is a fixed requirement. It can also include evidence of the applicant’s work, proof of personal savings, and evidence that the applicant has the required degree and qualifications. 

The application for the Service Supplier Visa can be made within the 3 months prior to the date the applicant will begin working in the UK. The said date is specified on the Certificate of Sponsorship. You must apply for the UK Service Supplier Visa within the 3 months following your acquisition of the Certificate of Sponsorship. The CoS is an electronic record that includes the information relevant to the service the applicant will be supplying to their sponsor in the UK, work details, start date, and the certified maintenance by the sponsor, if applicable.

The applicants inside the UK typically get a response within 8 weeks, whereas the applicants outside the UK receive it within three weeks. That is, if you’ve successfully proved your identity and provided all required documents. It’s also possible to get a faster response by making an additional payment in some urgent cases. 

Requirements for the UK Service Supplier Visa

There are various requirements you need to fulfill in order to qualify for the UK Service Supplier Visa. Find these requirements in the sections below:

Overseas Work Requirement

To apply for the UK Service Supplier Visa, you’re required to be working for a UK sponsor as an overseas service provider or for an overseas service provider. You must also have worked in such a position outside the UK for at least 12 months. The said period of work outside the UK is a cumulative period that can be accumulated over any period on the condition that you’ve been working for your overseas service provider continuously for at least 12 months before your application, inside or outside the UK. 

If you’re a self-employed overseas service supplier, on the other hand, you’re required to have been continuously working in the same sector—as the one where you supply services for your sponsor—in the last 12 months just before the application date, within or outside the UK.

The said period of 12 months can be interrupted only by parental leave, sick leave, maternity or paternity leave, statutory adoption leaves, providing assistance to an international or national environmental or humanitarian crisis, or participating in a lawful industrial action with the agreement of the sponsor. 

CoS (Certificate of Sponsorship) Requirement 

You’re required to hold a valid Certificate of Sponsorship to obtain a UK Service Supplier Visa. The CoS is an electronic record that’s issued by your licensed sponsor in the UK and registered with the Home Office. 

Your CoS should be issued within the last 3 months prior to your UK Service Supplier Visa application date.

The Certificate of Sponsorship obligatorily includes the following information:

  • The name of the applicant 
  • Applicant’s job and salary
  • Evidence proving that you’ve worked as or for an overseas service provider outside the UK for a cumulative period of at least 12 months
  • Proof that you’ll start working on a date that’s at most 3 months before the date of your Service Supplier Visa application
  • Evidence showing that the Certificate of Sponsorship hasn’t been previously used in another approved or refused application; or in an application the sponsor has withdrawn or the home office canceled.

Contract Requirement

You must work on a contract between your UK sponsor and the overseas service provider that employs you. The required contract must be registered with the Home Office. 

Genuine Job Requirement

To become an eligible applicant for the UK Service Supplier Visa, you need to prove to the Home Office that you’re sponsored to be undertaking a genuine job. 

Your UK Service Supplier Visa application will be refused if the Home Office isn’t convinced that you’ll be undertaking a genuine job. The same will be the case if the office has reason to believe that you demonstrate a non-existent job or a job that’s created just for the sake of getting the visa in your application. They’ll also want to be sure that you’re not temporarily or permanently filling a position without the sponsorship of a third party, undertaking an ongoing role as part of contract work, or providing routine service to some third party other than your sponsor. 

Salary Requirement 

Employers who are authorized to sponsor a Service Supplier via the UK Service Supplier Visa by the Home Office don’t need to meet a salary requirement or a fixed going rate for the job position. 

Job Skill Level Requirement

Option A

You need to be sponsored to do a job at/above a certain skill level to qualify for the UK Service Supplier Visa. For the job you’re going to do to be eligible for the Service Supplier Visa, it should be at least RQF Level 6, which corresponds to a graduate-level role, although you don’t need to have a degree. The Home Office has published a list that includes qualifying job types, titles, and relevant occupation codes. If your sponsored job is on this list, you’ll most probably meet the job skill level required to become eligible for the Service Supplier Visa.

It’s crucial for your sponsor to pick the most suitable occupation code. Otherwise, the Home Office may not authorize your employer for sponsorship, and your Service Supplier Visa application may be refused. 

During the evaluation as to whether or not the chosen occupation code is the most appropriate, the Home Office takes factors such as the experience, qualifications, and skills of the applicant and the compliance history of the sponsor with the immigration system into consideration.

Option B

Unless the overseas service provider that has employed you provides one of the following service types, you’re required to hold a university degree or have a technical qualification level that’s equivalent to a degree to qualify for the UK Service Supplier Visa.

  • Modeling and fashion (no degree required)
  • Chef de cuisine (requires advanced technical qualification)
  • Entertainment services—audio-visual services under the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement are excluded—(no degree required)
  • Management consultation and related services/consultants and managers (university degree required)
  • Translation or advertising (requires relevant technical qualifications)
  • Technical analysis and testing ( requires either a university degree or the relevant technical qualifications)

You’ll need to meet any required registrations or professional qualifications to provide services under the sectoral requirements or the UK law. To supply services in one of these sectors, you need to have professional experience in the relevant field as follows:

  • 3 years of experience; or
  • 6 years of experience if you are supplying services as a chef de cuisine under the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement; or
  • 6 years of experience if you’re a self-employed overseas service supplier. 

Nationality Requirement

There are a few nationality requirements you must meet in order to qualify for the UK Service Supplier Visa. These criteria are as follows:

  • Being a national of the base country/territory of the overseas service provider
  • Being a permanent resident in a country that has a trade agreement with the UK, if the service that you provide is covered by a commitment of the relevant agreement. (These countries are namely Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, EU Countries, and CARIFORUM Countries.); or,
  • If the service that you provide is covered by a commitment in the General Agreement on Trade in Services and your employer is based in a country that has made a notification under Article XXVIII(k)(ii)(2) of that agreement, being a permanent resident in the said country.

Financial Requirement 

To qualify for the UK Service Supplier Visa, you need to meet some financial requirements, unless your sponsor specifies in your Certificate of Sponsorship that they’ll be covering your expenses until the first month of your employment ends. 

If your sponsor doesn’t cover your maintenance expenses, you’re required to prove that you have at least £1,270 of cash funds available for a minimum of 28 consecutive days ending at most 31 days prior to your UK Service Supplier Visa application date. On the other hand, if you’ve been legally staying in the UK for at least 12 months up to your application date, you’ll not be required to demonstrate any evidence as to your available cash funds; you’ll have already met the financial requirement as it is. 

Immigration Skills Charge Requirement

Home Office-authorized employers that’ll sponsor Service Suppliers don’t need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge. 

Language Requirement

Applicants of the Global Business Mobility Visa – UK Service Supplier aren’t required to meet any English language criteria. 

Global Mobility Service Supplier Visa: Required Documents

To become an eligible applicant for the UK Service Supplier Visa, you’re required to deliver various documents. These documents include the following:

  • A valid passport or any other valid travel document 
  • Reference number of the Certificate of Sponsorship that’s given to the applicant by their sponsor in the UK
  • Job description of the assignment where the applicant will supply services, as well as the occupation code of the eligible job
  • Documents that prove the applicant has the required qualifications and degree
  • Documents that specify the UK sponsor and their license number of sponsorship
  • Documentation that proves the applicant has worked outside the UK for at least 12 months for their overseas employer, e.g. payment slips, copies of business accounts, invoices, bank statements
  • If applying for a dependent visa: evidence of relationship to the primary applicant
  • If you’ll take up a study in the UK: a valid ATAS (Academic Technology Approval Scheme) certificate
  • Tuberculosis test results (depending on the country you’re applying from)

If any of these documents are prepared in a language other than English or Welsh, certified translations must accompany them. All required documents must be submitted in their original forms. 

Validity of Service Supplier Visa 

The validity period of the UK Service Suppliers Visa can be 6 or 12 months, depending on the trade agreement under which the services the Service Supplier is providing fall. If the contract with the sponsor that has assigned the Certificate of Sponsorship is still valid when the visa expires, the visa holder can apply for a visa extension. 

The Service Supplier can return to the UK for a separate assignment. However, the maximum cumulative period that a Service Supplier Visa holder can spend in the UK within a period of 6 years is 5 years. The UK Service Supplier Visa doesn’t lead to a permanent residency permit in the UK. If you have such motivation, you need to seek ways of switching to another immigration option that will allow you to settle in the UK.

Switching to the Service Supplier Route

Those who have already been in the UK by holding a different visa and meet the requirements can be eligible to switch to the Service Supplier Visa. The dependents of the applicant—partner/spouse and dependent children—also need to apply for the switch separately. 

If you apply to switch to the Service Supplier Visa, you must stay in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or Ireland until you receive a response to your application. Otherwise, your application will become invalid.

Settlement in the UK Through Service Supplier Visa 

The Global Business Mobility – Service Supplier Visa is not a visa that allows you to settle in the UK directly. However, since it allows you into the UK, it may enable you to shift to another visa option that’ll lead to residency. Skilled Worker Visas or Start-up Visa and Innovator Visas combined are two options you can switch to from the Service Supplier Visa to obtain a residency permit in the UK. However, you need to meet a new set of criteria to extend your visa to one of these immigration routes. 

Long Residence—Indefinite Leave to Remain(ILR)—is another immigration route to the UK. To become eligible to obtain permanent residency through this route, however, you’re required to have legally lived in the UK for at least 10 years.

Service Supplier Visa Route: Conclusion

Although it doesn’t provide the visa holder with a direct route to settlement in the UK, the Global Business Mobility – Service Supplier Visa is the best suitable route for assignment-based overseas work as a service supplier. 

If you wish to extend your visa to another type of visa that can lead to permanent residency in the UK, you can switch from the Service Supplier Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa or a combination of the Innovator Visa and Start-up Visa. Moreover, your dependents can also apply for the Service Supplier Visa to accompany your stay in the UK throughout your employment there.

Frequently Asked Questions for UK Service Supplier Visa

What is the UK Service Supplier visa?

The UK Service Supplier Visa is a type of Global Business Mobility Visa that allows contract-based service suppliers working for or as overseas service providers to provide their services to a sponsor in the UK temporarily, under one of the trade agreements of the UK.

Do I need to be sponsored for the UK Service Supplier visa?

To qualify for the UK Service Supplier Visa, the applicant needs to provide services for a UK business that has been authorized as a sponsor by the Home Office. The service supplier must provide these services under a contract that’s covered by a valid international trade agreement.

Can I bring my family to the UK with the Service Supplier Visa?

Partner/spouse and dependent children of the service supplier can apply for the Service Supplier Visa as well. If they’re eligible, they can enter the UK by benefiting from the same route. 

How long does it take to get the UK Service Supplier Visa?

After completing the online application for the UK Service Supplier Visa, your application will be getting processed. The applicants outside the UK typically get a response in 3 weeks whereas the applicants inside the UK get it in 8 weeks. 

Can I obtain permanent residence by holding a Service Supplier Visa?

The UK Service Supplier Visa is not a direct route to permanent residence in the UK. However, it allows you to switch to another visa that enables you to immigrate.

For how long is the UK Service Supplier Visa valid?

Depending on the type of trade agreement the services you provide are covered by, the UK Service Supplier Visa can be valid for 6 to 12 months. 

What are the eligibility requirements for UK sponsors for the UK Service Supplier visa?

UK sponsors who will issue Certificates of Sponsorship to foreign service providers must meet specific eligibility criteria:

  • The Home Office must approve your UK sponsor,
  • The UK sponsor must have a valid contract with an overseas service provider as part of the UK’s international trade commitments,
  • The UK sponsor must issue an appropriate Certificate of Sponsorship to you.

Is it possible to switch to the Service Supplier route while in the UK?

If you want to switch to a UK Service Supplier visa while in the UK on a different visa, you can switch if you meet the eligibility requirements.

Foreign nationals within the United Kingdom who hold the following visas are not eligible to switch to the Service Supplier visa:

  • A short-term student visa
  • A UK Visitor visa,
  • Temporary Seasonal Worker visa,
  • Parent of Child Student Visa,
  • A domestic worker is a private household visa

You cannot apply for a Service Supplier visa while in the UK with these visas. However, you must leave the UK and apply for a Service Supplier visa under Global Business Mobility.

In addition, foreign nationals who are allowed to stay outside immigration rules in the UK or on immigration bail cannot apply for a Service Supplier visa.

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