- What is the UK Senior or Specialist Worker Visa?
- Do European nationals need a Senior or Specialist Worker visa?
- Who is eligible?
- Certificate of Sponsorship (COS)
- Eligible jobs
- Financial requirements
- Documents for the Senior or Specialist Worker visa application
- How to apply
- Switching to the Senior or Specialist Worker visa
- Validity period
- How to extend your Senior or Specialist Worker visa
- How can IAS help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is the UK Senior or Specialist Worker Visa?
The Senior or Specialist Worker visa allows foreign nationals to come to the UK to work in an eligible role at a UK branch of their overseas employer.
This worker visa is in the global business mobility category. It replaces the intra-company transfer visa or Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Long-term Staff visa.
The UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa is intended for highly paid employees in certain occupations and roles, such as senior managers and specialist workers.
Also, the UK government designed this visa to be a nonimmigrant visa, so it is expected that the visa holders are only in the UK for a temporary work assignment linked to their employer overseas. As such, a specialist worker visa holder cannot obtain UK settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain on this visa. However, they may be able to switch to another visa that can lead to settlement.
For assistance with this route, advice, or more information, you can contact our UK immigration lawyers by calling us on 0333 305 9375.
Do European nationals need a Senior or Specialist Worker visa?
If you are from the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein, you may be able to remain in the UK without applying for this visa. Provisions were made as part of Brexit to cover EU nationals already living and working in the UK, including those working for a branch of an employer headquartered elsewhere.
If you or your family members were already living in the UK on or before the 31st of December 2020, you might be able to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.
However, the deadline to apply for that is long past (30th June 2021). If you didn’t apply then, you might still be able to under a few circumstances. If you didn’t apply then and do not qualify to apply now, you may need to obtain the Senior or Specialist Worker visa just like any other foreign national to the UK who isn’t visa-exempt for working in the UK.
Who is eligible for a UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa?
To be eligible for this global business mobility visa, you must:
- Be an employee of a Home Office approved sponsor
- Been given a valid Certificate of sponsorship from your employer with information on the work you are to do in the UK
- Do a job on the list of eligible occupations
- Be paid at least £42,400 per year or the ‘going rate’ for your job (whichever is higher)
- If you have been in the UK since before 6th April 2011 on Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa, you only need to be paid the going rate for your job, even if it’s lower than £42,400
- Have worked for your employer for the minimum time outside the UK
- If you earn less than £73,900 per annum, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months outside the UK.
- If your salary is £73,900 or more per annum, there is no minimum required time.
Certificate of Sponsorship (COS)
A certificate of sponsorship is an electronic record that contains information about the work you are to do in the UK. Applicants for work visas for the UK are usually required to provide this document from their employer, also known as the sponsor.
The certificate of sponsorship will have a reference number which you must add to your global business mobility Senior or Specialist Worker visa application.
For a “sponsor” to provide a valid certificate of sponsorship, they must have a Sponsor License that will enable them to sponsor people to work in the UK.
If your certificate of sponsorship was provided between February 11 2022 and April 11 2022, for the Intra-company Transfer visa, you could still use it to apply for this visa unless your stated salary is less than £42,400 per year. If your salary is less than that amount, your employer must increase your salary to enable you to come to the UK under this route.
Eligible jobs for the Senior or Specialist Worker visa
You can check the full list of eligible occupations to see if the occupation code of your job is there. Your occupation code should be on your certificate of sponsorship. If you haven’t been given one yet, reach out to your employer for your occupation code.
As this is a replacement visa for the Intra-Company Transfer visa (ICT visa), most of the eligible occupations for that visa are still eligible for the Specialist Worker route. However, some jobs do not qualify for the Senior or Specialist Worker visa despite being eligible for the ICT visa. These are the jobs and their occupation codes:
- Artists (3411)
- Authors, writers and translators (3412)
- Actors, entertainers and presenters (3413)
- Dancers and choreographers (3414)
- Product, clothing and related designers (3422)
If you are already in the UK working in any of the above occupation codes on other global business mobility routes, particularly the Intra-Company transfer visa, you can extend your current visa before it expires and continue working in the same job.
However, if you are changing your job, you may need to apply to update your visa or obtain another visa. If you are switching to an ineligible job, you will have to switch to another work visa to be able to work in the UK. If you are switching to an eligible job, you will have to apply to update your visa.
Financial requirements for the Senior or Special Worker visa
In addition to meeting the salary requirements, the UK government expects you to have enough money to support yourself in the UK. The minimum required amount is £1,270. This amount must have been in your bank account for at least 28 consecutive days, and the end of that period must be within 31 days from the date you apply.
If you don’t have the money, you may still meet the financial requirement if your employer is to cover your costs during your first month in the UK, up to £1,270. Alternatively, you must have been in the UK on another valid visa for at least 12 months.
To prove you have the money, you can provide bank statements of your account or your partner’s account (if the money is in their account) or a certificate of sponsorship showing your sponsor will cover your cost.
If your employer is sponsoring you, your employer will be required to complete the ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’ section on your certificate.
Documents for the Senior or Specialist Worker visa application
When applying for the Senior or Specialist Worker visa, you may be required to provide the following:
- A valid passport or another travel document that shows your identity and nationality
- Proof of your job title, job occupation code and annual salary
- A copy of your certificate of sponsorship showing the name of your employer and their sponsor license number
- Proof you meet the financial requirements
- Tuberculosis test results, if required
- Evidence you worked for your employer outside the UK if you earn less than £73,900 a year
- An ATAS certificate if your job involves researching a sensitive subject at PhD level or higher
How to apply for the UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa
If you have decided to apply for the Senior or Specialist Worker visa, ensure to complete your application within three months of getting your certificate of sponsorship. You can submit your Senior or Specialist Worker visa application to the Home Office through the Gov.uk site.
As part of the application process, you must submit your supporting documents and may be required to give your biometrics (fingerprint and photograph). You may be able to do so at a visa application centre or using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app.
Cost of the Senior or Specialist Worker visa
The application fee for the Senior or Specialist Worker visa depends on how long you’d like your visa to be valid. The following applies:
- up to 3 years – £625 per person
- more than 3 years – £1,235 per person
You will also be required to pay the immigration health surcharge, which is around £624 per year.
It usually takes about three weeks to get a decision on your Senior or Specialist Worker visa application.
Your processing time may take longer if you do not submit all your supporting documents or prove your identity on time. It can also take longer if you need to attend an interview, you have had a criminal conviction in the past, or your documents need to be verified.
Also, if there are many applications for the home office, your time may take longer. Some visa application centres allow specialist worker visa applicants to pay for faster processing. To ensure you can avail of that opportunity or prevent avoidable delays, reach out to us today on 0333 305 9375.
Switching to the Senior or Specialist Worker visa
If you are already in the UK and need a Senior or Specialist Worker visa, you don’t need to leave the country before you apply. You may be able to switch from your current UK visa to the Senior or Specialist Worker visa.
Before you start the process of switching your visa, ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements which we looked at above. In addition, you must not be in the UK on the following visas:
- Visit visa
- Short-term student visa
- Parent of a Child Student visa
- Seasonal worker visa
- Domestic worker in a private household visa
- Immigration bail
- Permission to stay outside the immigration rules for any reason, such as on compassionate grounds.
If any of the above applies to you, you’d have to leave the UK first and apply using the steps in the ‘How to apply’ section.
Like with the regular application process, when applying to switch your other UK visa to this one, you’d have to start and complete the application online. You also need to physically provide your biometrics at the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point or online using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app.
To switch your visa, the following fees apply:
- up to 3 years – £719 per person
- more than 3 years – £1,423 per person
It usually takes about eight weeks to get a decision on your switch application. Just like with the regular application, your processing time may take a bit longer if the same delay factors discussed are in place. You may also be able to pay for faster processing.
While you wait for a decision, you should not travel outside the UK, the Channel Islands, Ireland or Isle of Man. If you do so, your application will be withdrawn.
Validity period of the visa
The time you may get for your UK Senior, or Specialist Worker visa can be five years or the time given on your certificate of sponsorship + 14 days, whichever is shorter.
You can pay for a valid visa for up to three years or more when applying for your visa. After staying in the UK for the approved time, you may be eligible to extend your stay in the UK as many times as you want as long as it is within the following maximum allowed time:
- Five years in six years, if your annual salary is less than £73,900
- Nine years in ten years, if your yearly salary is £73,900 or more
If you are already in the UK on another visa and need to switch to this one, your time spent on those visas will be included in your maximum total stay. Those visas include:
- Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa
- Intra-company Transfer visa
- Graduate Trainee visa
- Secondment Worker visa
- Service Supplier visa
- UK Expansion Worker visa
Also, if you spent time in the UK on a Senior or Specialist Worker visa and leave for any reason but return within the six or ten year period (based on earning), your previous time in the UK will still count unless you exceeded the maximum time previously and then spent at least six months outside the UK after that time.
One exception to the maximum allowed stay is if you were given a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Long-term Staff visa before 6 April 2011. You’d be able to stay in the UK as long as your employer is sponsoring you on the Senior or Specialist Worker visa or a valid Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Long-term Staff visa or Intra-company Transfer visa.
How to extend your UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa
You can apply to extend your visa if you meet the following eligibility requirements:
- You have the same job (and in the same occupation code) as when you received your current permission to enter the UK
- You are still working for the employer that gave you the COS with which you received your current visa.
- You haven’t stayed up the maximum allowed time on this visa.
You can apply online to extend your visa and pay the fees, which are the same as the fees for switching to this visa. While you wait for a decision, do not travel outside the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
Beware that if you were given an Intra-company Transfer visa or a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Long-term Staff visa and you are looking to extend it now, you will still be able to if you are an artist, author, actor, dancer or designer despite those jobs are now being ineligible. However, you will not be allowed to change to another job in the same code or another ineligible occupation code.
Applying for any UK visa can be challenging, from figuring out if you are eligible to selecting the right documentation and completing the online application right. Several people still get delays or rejections despite trying their best. At Immigration Advice Service, we are committed to taking the stress out of your UK visa application process and helping present your application in the best light.
We offer different packages to suit you. You can take our advice package if you only want advice on your eligibility, visa options, or other UK visa-specific needs.
Our application package further includes completing a high-quality application on your behalf, liaising with the Home Office when necessary, and advising on the best documents to prove your eligibility.
For more information or immediate assistance with the UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa, call our UK immigration solicitors today. You can reach us via phone on 0333 305 9375, live chat or online contact form.
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
With our untimed Advice Session, our professional immigration lawyers will review your case and provide you with comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated caseworker will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your legal advisor will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
Your dependents can join you in the UK. Those are your:
- Partner (spouse, civil partner or de facto partner)
- Children (under 18 – over 18 can stay if they are already in the UK as your dependent)
They will need to apply separately and submit proof of their relationship with you, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate. Also, they will have to prove that they can support themselves in the UK. For each dependant, that is the following:
- £285 for your partner
- £315 for one child
- £200 for each additional child
They can apply online from outside the UK and can do so at the same time you are applying. When filling out their application, they will need your Global Web Form (GWF) or a Unique Application Number (UAN). They can also switch their visa to this one (dependent of Senior or Specialist Worker) if they were already in the UK on another eligible visa.
If they are granted a visa, the validity period will be the same as yours. They will also be able to extend theirs when you are extending yours (only if you are eligible to extend yours).
If your job changes while in the UK, you will need to apply to update your visa. Note that your new job must still be on the eligible list, and you will need a new certificate of sponsorship. Also, you must work for the same employer or be employed by one owned by that employer. You should update your visa at most three months before the date you start your new job.
If you need to update your visa, your dependents will also have to update their visa. They can do that at the same time as you or before their current visa expires.
If you are looking to take additional work instead, you will be able to do so as long as you don’t work up to 20 hours a week in the new job.
Also, the job must be in the same occupation code as your main job or at the same level. Alternatively, the job should be on the Skilled Worker shortage occupation list.
If your job is still not eligible for this route, you may be able to apply for a skilled worker visa.