Obtaining a UK Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

To thrive in a globally changing environment, the UK government offers various solutions to ensure the economic and social welfare of the country. There have been a few changes in business visas. The new category is called Global Business Mobility and includes 5 subcategories, one of which is the Senior or Specialist Worker visa. It allows you to stay in the UK for a certain period and perform certain activities. It is easy to obtain, but you must be sure that this is the type of visa you need and provide supporting documents to the Home Office. The Senior or Specialist Worker Visa has replaced the Intra-company Transfer visa, previously Tier 2.

Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

This type of visa allows qualified employees to do an eligible job as a senior manager or specialist worker. You can stay in the UK for the time stated on the certificate of sponsorship. You will need to switch to a different visa if your responsibilities change or want to work for someone else. Otherwise, you must leave the country.

A Senior or Specialist Worker visa is a non-settlement visa, meaning that it does not lead to an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or citizenship. If your circumstances change or you want to stay in the UK permanently, we recommend getting professional help to switch to another visa category. It is not difficult but a case has to be strong and all the documents must be prepared carefully to convince a caseworker of your genuine intentions.

Requirements for a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

To get a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa, you need to meet all general criteria and some specific requirements. You must:

  1. Be older than 18 years old.
  2. Have clean criminal and immigration records and no debts.
  3. Have at least £1,270 in your bank account to show the UK government that you can support yourself. Alternatively, the sponsoring company must take on the responsibility of supporting you. The standard application fee ranges from £625 to £1,423 depending on the length of stay in the UK and whether you apply for the first time or extend your visa. Moreover, you will pay a healthcare surcharge of £624 for each year of your stay.
  4. Be tested negative for tuberculosis.
  5. The sponsor must have a sponsorship licence to issue a certificate of sponsorship to a foreign specialist.
  6. Senior or Specialist Workers earning less than £73,900 a year must have worked for their employer outside the UK for at least 12 months.
  7. The minimum pay is £42,200.

You can apply for a visa three months before you start working in the UK. An applicant gets a decision within 8 weeks if they apply online and up to 3 weeks if they apply outside the UK.

Either way, you need to have your biometrics taken at a UK visa application centre.

In some cases, it is possible to get a decision under the accelerated procedure.

There is a list of eligible occupations for a Global Business Mobility visa with reference codes. You can also check the occupation code with the employer. For example, artists, actors, and writers are no longer considered specialists. Current contracts can be extended on the same conditions but they cannot be signed again in the event of termination of employment.

Sponsorship Licence and Certificates of Sponsorship

The receiving company must obtain a sponsorship licence to hire a senior or specialist worker.

A sponsorship licence is issued to companies that have branches in different jurisdictions and hire foreign employees. The company must have a system in place to monitor and track employees’ performance and attendance.

At the first stage of applying for a sponsorship licence, your sponsor must prove they are an eligible employer.

  1. A prospective sponsor is an established company that is registered in the UK, submits annual accounts, and pays taxes.
  2. The job offer is genuine.
  3. There are overseas branches.
  4. The company must appoint an authorising officer living in the UK.

After obtaining a sponsorship licence, a company can issue certificates of sponsorship (CoS). It is a document confirming that you want to employ a foreign worker for a specific position; it includes all the details of the employment. A CoS is an electronic document. A foreign specialist is given a unique identification number for their CoS which they will use to fill in their visa application.

The company appoints an Authorising Officer and Level 1 and Level 2 users. These people must have a clean criminal record and have relevant skills to do their job. They manage the sponsorship system, issue and assign certificates of sponsorship, are responsible for the cooperation between the company and the employee, update and keep copies of the documents, and notify the immigration authorities timely about any arising problems. Moreover, they monitor employees’ attendance.

Add Family Members to an Application for a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

You can add the following family members to your application:

  • Minor children
  • Spouse
  • Same-sex partner.

If you add an unmarried partner to your application, you must prove that your relationship is long-term by submitting joint utility bills, holiday photos, etc. You should consult an immigration advisor to get a full list of all supporting evidence and to discuss your specific circumstances. It is important to have been in a relationship for at least two years.

Minor children and spouses are considered dependants unless they have separate visas. A bank statement will be requested to show you have sufficient funds to support your family – £285 for your partner, £315 for your first dependent child, and £200 for each additional dependent child. An application fee and immigration health surcharge must be paid for each dependant.

Dependants can be added online by uploading all the required documents. Each dependant submits a separate application. All dependent applicants must also go to a visa application centre for biometrics.

Validity of a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

The maximum stay depends on the salary. The reference is £73,900 a year. If you’re paid less than that you can stay for 5 years in any 6-year period. If you’re paid more than £73,900 a year you may stay for 9 years in any 10-year period. Then you must leave the country or apply for another type of visa. Any time you spend in the UK on previous work visas or new UK Global Business Mobility visas will be counted toward your maximum total stay.

Restrictions and Opportunities

With a Senior or Specialist Worker visa, you can work for your sponsor in the job described in your certificate of sponsorship at the time of application. It is not possible to change jobs. If your situation changes, we recommend contacting regulated advisors to find the best solution to switch from the current visa to another one. Otherwise, you will have to leave the UK within 14 days. You have the same number of days to leave the country when your job here is done.

However, irrespective of these restrictions, there are excellent opportunities for you to get training and professionally develop. You can talk to a company representative or advisor about what you can do.

You can also do voluntary work.

It is possible to have a second job, but it must be in the same occupational code as your current visa. There must also be a labour shortage for this job.

Senior or Specialist Worker Visa Refusals

The most important part of applying for a visa is the timely submission of correct documents based on your specific circumstances. An employer will be unlikely to wait for a potential employee to re-apply after refusal. An advisor can help you with the whole process, ensure it runs smoothly, all the deadlines are met, right documents are ready. Qualified advice and assistance give confidence and save time.

FAQ about Senior or Specialist Worker Visa

Who is this visa for?

The Senior or Specialist Worker visa is for foreign specialists who get appointed to work in UK subsidiaries of their parent company as top managers or highly qualified specialists.

An applicant must submit a certificate of sponsorship issued by a licensed sponsor.

Which visa did a Senior or Specialist Worker visa replace?

The Senior or Specialist Worker visa replaced the Intra-company Transfer visa, previously the Tier 2.

Can I use this visa to stay in the UK permanently?

This visa category allows foreign workers to work and stay in the UK with their families, but it does not lead to an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or citizenship.

If this is your goal, you should consult immigration advisors and come up with a plan in collaboration with your employer.

Can I Bring my Family to the UK on a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa?

This visa allows the main applicant to bring family members to the UK. Your spouse and minor children can relocate with you as your dependentsdependants and live, work, and study here.

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