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Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

If you need to come to the UK to work in your current employer’s UK branch, you may be able to with the Senior or Specialist Worker visa. We can help you navigate the application process.

For more information on this visa or assistance with applying for the Senior or Specialist Worker visa, call our immigration lawyers on 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.

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    Benefits of Choosing IAS For Your Work Visa

    Our team of immigration lawyers can provide the right support to ensure you secure a work visa for yourself or your employees.

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    Your immigration lawyer will consider your case and offer bespoke advice, and they will advise you on the optimum route to take to achieve your desired result.

    By working with IAS for your or your employee’s work visa, you make sure that you have an expert eye and hands on your case to boost your chances of success.

    We ensure you are applying for the most suitable work visa to boost your chances of success.

    We provide advice on the appropriate documentary evidence required to support your case.

    You get a personalised approach from a qualified and experienced immigration lawyer

    You work with you and liaise with the Home Office on your behalf to ensure the best possible outcome.

    Regardless of what your personal immigration query might be, IAS is here to help and support you. Call us or enquire online to learn more about how we can help you.

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    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.

    Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to receive assistance with this work visa.

    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 £48,500 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
    • 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) Requirement for the Senior or Specialist worker visa

    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.

    Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to receive assistance with this work 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

    Get in touch with our expert immigration lawyers to receive assistance with this work visa.

    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 – £719 per person
    • more than 3 years – £1,420 per person

    You will also be required to pay the immigration health surcharge, which is around £1,035 per year.

    Processing time

    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.

    What is the cost of sponsoring a GBM senior or specialist worker?

    There are five main costs attached to sponsoring a senior or specialist worker visa, they are the sponsor licence fee, immigration skills charge, Certificate of sponsorship fee, visa application fee, and immigration heath surcharge. In total, you may spend between £2,893 and £5,386 to sponsor an employee for one year on the GMB senior and specialist worker visa.

    The sponsor licence application fee (if you don’t already have a sponsor licence). The fee to apply for a sponsor licence is £536 for small or charitable sponsors and £1,476 for medium or large sponsors.

    Next is the immigration skills charge (ISC). This is required for every CoS that you assign for a Skilled Worker or Senior or Specialist Worker visa application. The cost of this usually depends on the size of your organisation and the start and end date of the CoS (to represent the length of time the visa holder would be in the UK). There are a few exceptions to this fee, including the length of the temporary transfer, occupation code, country of domicile (for the business), and country of citizenship (for the applicant). The fee for small or charitable sponsors is £364 for the first 12 months, with an additional £182 for every additional six months. For medium or large sponsors, the fee is £1,000 for the first 12 months and £500 for every additional six months.

    To be classed as a small sponsor, the business must match at least two of the following criteria:

    • £10.2 million or less in annual turnover;
    • £5.1 million or less in total business assets; and/or
    • 50 or fewer employees.

    Please note that the ISC is separate from the fee to assign a CoS, which is £239.

    Next, there’s the visa application fee which is £719 (less than 3 years in the UK) or £1,420 (more than three years in the UK), if applying from within the UK or £827 (less than 3 years in the UK) or £1,636 (more than three years in the UK), if switching to, extending or updating the senior or specialist worker visa.

    The immigration health surcharge is usually  £1,035 per year.

    If you are fulfilling the financial requirement on behalf of the employee, then you must show that you have the cash required but this is not exactly a visa application cost.

    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.

    Additionally, if you plan to switch to this visa from a Student visa, one of the following must apply to you:

    • You’ve completed the course you were sponsored to study on your Student visa
    • The start date of your job is after the completion date of your course
    • You’ve been studying for a PhD for at least 24 months

    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.

    Fees

    To switch your visa, the following fees apply:

    • up to 3 years – £827 per person
    • more than 3 years – £1,636 per person

    Processing time

    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.

    Dependant application process of senior or specialist workers

    There are certain requirements for dependants of Global Business Mobility visa senior or specialist worker visa holders to meet before coming to the UK.

    Eligibility Assessment

    The first step is to determine if the senior or specialist worker meets the eligibility criteria for bringing dependents (spouse, children, etc.) with them. The eligibility criteria may include factors like income, job category, and the type of visa being applied for.

    Submission of Visa Application

    The senior or specialist worker will need to submit their own visa application, providing all required documentation and information. This often includes proof of employment, qualifications, and other relevant details.

    Dependent Visa Application

    Once the primary worker’s visa application is approved or in the process of being processed, they can typically initiate the dependent visa application process for their family members. This may involve a separate application form and additional documentation such as marriage certificates for spouses or birth certificates for children.

    Documentation

    The dependent applicants will need to provide various documents, such as passport copies, photographs, and any required medical or background checks.

    Financial Support

    In some cases, the primary worker may need to demonstrate their ability to financially support their dependents while they are in the country.

    Interviews and Biometrics

    Depending on the country’s immigration policies, there may be interviews or biometric appointments required for both the primary worker and their dependents.

    Visa Approval

    Once the applications are processed and approved, dependent visas will be issued to the family members. The length and conditions of the dependent visas can vary.

    Travel and Arrival

    The family members can then travel to the host country and must comply with any entry requirements, such as presenting their dependent visas at the port of entry.

    Residency and Compliance

    After arrival, the dependent family members must adhere to the terms and conditions of their visas, which may include maintaining legal residency status, not engaging in prohibited employment, and adhering to any reporting requirements.

    If you have any questions about obtaining a Senior or Specialist Worker visa, we are happy to assist.

    Validity period of the GBM Senior or Specialist Worker visa

    The time you may get for your Global Business Mobility visa senior or specialist worker, 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 Global Business Mobility 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.

    How can IAS help?

    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 Global Business Mobility 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 Global Business Mobility Visa 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.

    We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    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.

    The fees for small or charitable sponsors are:

    • First 12 months: £364
    • Each additional 6 months: £182

    For medium or large sponsors, the fees are:

    • First 12 months: £1,000
    • Each additional 6 months: £500

    Global Business Mobility – Senior or Specialist Worker Visa holders do not need to meet any language requirements for their visa to be approved.

    Any business in the UK that has a sponsor licence can sponsor a senior or specialist worker. Have in mind that this visa is intended to be for temporary stay and for workers in senior positions who already work for the business in a branch overseas.

    With a GBM senior and specialist worker visa, you can:

    • Work for your sponsor in the job described in your CoS
    • Study in the UK
    • do voluntary work
    • Bring your dependents (partner and children)
    • Travel abroad and re-enter the UK

    Please note that this visa is intended for temporary stay, so you cannot obtain indefinite leave to remain after your stay on this visa or do any of the following:

    • Obtain public benefits or funds or state pension
    • Have a second job

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