What is a Service Supplier Visa?

The Service Supplier Visa falls within the UK’s Global Business Mobility visa program, designed to address the immigration and skill UK-based businesses. This particular visa is relevant for employees of overseas companies or overseas self-employed professionals who have a contract to provide a service for a UK company. Eligibility for this visa is subject to a valid international trade agreement being in place, the nature of the job role, the length of your employment overseas, and the issuance of a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Successful applicants can reside in the UK for a period of 6 to 12 months, depending on the specific trade agreement. This highly specialised visa allows UK businesses to benefit from specific skill sets they otherwise may not have access to. For employees, it provides a short-term opportunity to live and work in the UK, which can lead to subsequent visas and the opportunity to remain in the UK longer term.

This guide will comprehensively explore the Service Supplier Visa, beginning with a detailed breakdown of its eligibility requirements.

Eligibility for a Service Supplier Visa

You must fulfill various eligibility criteria to qualify for a Service Supplier Visa. These include:

  • Sponsor License: Your UK sponsor must possess a valid UK Sponsor Licence, enabling them to hire international workers.
  • Certificate of Sponsorship: Your UK sponsor must issue you a Certificate of Sponsorship delineating the specifics of your work in the UK.
  • Work Experience: You must have at least 12 months’ experience with your employer overseas or have at least 12 months’ professional experience if you’re a self-employed service provider.
  • Current Status: You must work as an employee of a foreign company or operate as an independent service provider overseas.
  • Job Suitability: The role you’re undertaking must be one that features on the Eligible Occupations List.
  • Trade Agreement Contract: You must offer a service to a UK-based business within a contract that falls under a legitimate international trade agreement.
  • Financial Support: You must demonstrate adequate funds to sustain yourself and any dependents during your initial month in the UK.

Meeting each of these requirements will enable you to proceed with your application.

Eligibility Requirements in Further Detail

Certificate of Sponsorship Requirement

Your sponsor, who will be your UK employer, provides you with an electronic document known as a Certificate of Sponsorship detailing the specific work you’ll undertake in the UK. Only an employer with a valid Sponsor License can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship generated through the Sponsor Management System (SMS). It’s essential to note that this certificate exists electronically, not as a physical paper document.

You’ll need the reference number from your Certificate of Sponsorship during your visa application. Note you must lodge your visa application within three months of receiving the Certificate of Sponsorship.

Job Eligibility Requirement

Only specific roles qualify for a Service Supplier Visa. The complete list of eligible occupations can be found on the government website. It’s important to ensure your role is listed before initiating the application process. Each role is assigned a 4-digit occupation code, and the relevant code must be indicated on the Certificate of Sponsorship that is generated by your employer.

If your job role doesn’t appear on the list, you might still qualify for a Service Supplier Visa based on relevant qualifications and experience.

Typically, one of the following qualifications is required:

  • A bachelor’s degree or higher in any field.
  • A technical qualification at a level equivalent to a bachelor’s degree.

Additionally, you’ll need:

  • Three years of pertinent professional experience if you’re an overseas employee.
  • Six years of professional experience if you’re self-employed.

Some services require different experience and qualifications:

ServicesQualifications and experience
Advertising or translationRelevant qualifications
Chef de cuisineAdvanced technical qualification and 6 years experience
Entertainment services (excluding audio-visual services under the CARIFORUM-UK Economic Partnership Agreement)No qualifications required
Fashion and modellingNo qualifications required
Management consulting servicesBachelor’s degree
Technical testing and analysisBachelor’s degree or relevant technical qualification

Maintenance Requirement

To demonstrate your financial capacity to sustain yourself in the UK, you need a minimum of £1,270 in your bank account, maintained continuously for at least 28 days. The 28th day should fall within 31 days before your visa application submission. If your partner and children are joining you, they must also show financial capability to support themselves in the UK. The additional maintenance funds required for them are:

  • £285 for your partner
  • £315 for one child
  • £200 for each additional child

If your employer intends to cover your initial month’s expenses in the UK, this should be explicitly stated in your Certificate of Sponsorship. Your employer must complete the ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’ section under ‘Additional data’ on your certificate.

Duration of the Service Supplier Visa

The length of your stay in the UK under a Service Supplier Visa is dependant on the trade agreement under which you are providing services. Typically, you can stay for the shorter of:

  • 6 or 12 months based on the terms of the trading agreement you’re providing services under.
  • The period indicated on your Certificate of Sponsorship, plus an extra 14 days.

Extending a Service Supplier Visa beyond its initial term is impossible. However, switching to another visa from within the UK may be possible. Get in touch with us to discuss your options.

In addition to the 12 month restriction on a Service Supplier Visa, there’s also a cap on the overall time you can spend in the UK on Global Business Mobility Visas. If you’ve held any of the following visas, your total stay in the UK is capped at 5 years within any 6 year timeframe:
  • Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa
  • Intra-company Transfer visa
  • Graduate Trainee visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • Secondment Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • Senior or Specialist Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • Service Supplier visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • UK Expansion Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)

Rights and Entitlements on a Service Supplier Visa

Under a Service supplier Visa, there are more limitations than other work visas, such as the Skilled Worker Visa. However, you are still allowed to do the following:

  • Work for your UK sponsor in the specified role on your Certificate of Sponsorship.
  • Pursue studies or educational programs.
  • Bring your eligible dependant partner and children to the UK.
  • Engage in voluntary work.
  • Travel abroad and returning to the UK.

There are notable restrictions associated with the Secondment Worker visa that you should be aware of:

  • You cannot claim most public funds, benefits, or the State Pension.
  • Inability to change jobs without updating your visa.
  • Prohibition from taking up a secondary job in the UK.
  • Time spent on a Service Supplier Visa doesn’t count towards Indefinite Leave to Remain.

The UKVI provides a comprehensive list outlining what you can and cannot do once your visa is approved. Adhering to these regulations is crucial to avoid violating the UK’s immigration rules.

Document List for a Service Supplier Visa

When submitting your application for a Service Supplier Visa, you’ll be required to provide the following:

  • The Certificate of Sponsorship reference number as stated on the certificate.
  • A valid passport or any official document verifying your identity and nationality.
  • The specific job details, including your job title and annual salary.
  • The occupation code relevant to your job role.
  • Your employer’s name and their sponsor license number (both listed are on your Certificate of Sponsorship).
  • Evidence of adequate personal savings to sustain yourself in the UK, such as bank statements (unless your certificate of sponsorship indicates financial support from your employer).
  • Documents to substantiate your relationship with any dependent partner or children if they apply alongside you.
  • A tuberculosis test result certificate if you live in a country where TB is widespread.


Additional Documents

Depending on your circumstances, you might also be asked to provide:

  • Proof of your employment history with your employer outside the UK such as payslips or bank statements
  • A valid ATAS certificate if your employer requires one for high-level research in a sensitive field at PhD level or beyond
  • Documentation verifying your degree or qualifications.

Service Supplier Visa Costs

There are various expenses linked to a Service Supplier Visa. It’s recommended that applicants have a prior discussion with their UK and overseas employers to clarify each party’s responsibility for these fees.

The fees include:

  • Certificate of Sponsorship fee = £239
  • Service Supplier Visa fee = £298 (plus £298 for each dependant)
  • Immigration Health Surcharge fee = £624 per year for adults and £470 for children under 18 years old. This is payable by the main applicant and any dependants.

You’ll be informed how much you must pay when applying and submitting your application online. You won’t be able to proceed to book your biometric appointment until you’ve paid the fees in full.

Service Supplier Visa Processing Time

Your visa processing begins once you’ve completed the online application, submitted the required documents, and attended your biometric appointment. Typically, a decision is made within three weeks for applications within the UK and eight weeks for those outside the country.

For certainty, regarding your arrival for work in the UK you might want to consider:

  • Using the priority or super-priority services, to expedite the process, though with additional fees, resulting in a decision within one or five working days, depending on the chosen service.
  • Apply up to three months before your scheduled UK work start date, as specified on your Certificate of Sponsorship.

As visa processing times can vary, applying well in advance is advisable. If facing a tight deadline, opting for a priority service ensures your visa is processed in time.