In September 2022, we wrote about the main differences between the five visas available under the Global Business Mobility scheme, which was introduced by the Home Office on 1st April 2022, namely the Senior or Specialist Worker visa, Graduate Trainee visa, Expansion Worker visa, Service Supplier visa, and the Secondment Worker visa. Over the next couple of months, we are going to expand on each of these visas, outlining who they are for, the eligibility criteria, the application process, and the conditions attached. In this article, we focus on the Senior or Specialist Worker visa, which replaced the old Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer (ICT) visa.
What is the Senior or Specialist Worker Visa For?
The Senior or Specialist Worker visa enables employees of an overseas company to work in the UK for a branch or subsidiary of the same organisation. For example, an employee working for Microsoft in another country could use this visa to work for their employer in the UK.
Senior or Specialist Worker Visa Conditions
As a Senior or Specialist Worker visa holder, you can live and work in the UK for up to 5 years. The Senior or Specialist Worker visa rules also state that the maximum stay is 5 years in any 6-year period for those paid less than £73,900 a year or 9 years in any 10-year period for those paid £73,900 a year or more.
As a Senior or Specialist Worker visa holder, you will be able to work for your sponsor, study, bring your dependant partner and children, do voluntary work, and travel freely outside of the UK and return. Crucially, you can only work in the job stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship.
If you wish to change your job in the UK, you may need to submit an application to change your visa. It is also important to bear in mind that with this type of visa, you will not be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain. If you plan to settle permanently in the UK, you will need to switch to a different type of work visa that enables settlement (normally after 5 years).
Senior or Specialist Worker Visa Eligibility Criteria
To qualify for a Senior or Specialist Worker visa, you must:
- Hold a certificate of sponsorship from your employer – In order to secure a certificate of sponsorship, your employer must hold a sponsor licence. Under the older ICT visa, this was not a requirement.
- Have worked for your employer outside the UK for at least 12 months – you will need to provide a letter from your employer, payslips, and/or bank statements to prove this
- Have an eligible occupation – the Home Office has a list of eligible occupations which you can check to ensure your job qualifies for this visa, and
- Meet the salary requirements for your job – you must receive an annual salary of at least £42,400, or at least the “going rate” for your job. The Home Office publishes a list of going rates on its website.
- Have at least £1,270 to support yourself when you arrive in the UK
The requirement to have worked for your employer outside the UK for at least months does not apply if you receive an annual salary of £73,900 or more.
Applying For a Specialist Worker Visa
The application process for your Specialist Worker visa can be completed outside the UK; alternatively, you can switch to this visa from within the UK. To apply for a Specialist Worker visa, you will need to complete the following steps:
- Complete the application online
- Pay the application fee (this ranges from £625 to £1,423)
- Pay the healthcare surcharge (£624 per year per person and £470 per year for children)
- Book an appointment with your nearest visa application centre (VAC) to provide your biometrics. The VAC will take your photo and scan your fingerprints
- Provide any evidence required to support your application (e.g. CoS reference number, passport, and proof of employment outside the UK)
Once you have submitted your application and attended your VAC appointment, you can expect to receive a decision on your Specialist Worker visa within 3 weeks if you apply outside the UK or 8 weeks if you apply inside the UK.
Despite the requirement for employers to hold a sponsor licence, the Global Business Mobility Specialist Worker visa provides a flexible way to relocate staff based in one country to a branch or subsidiary in the UK. This may be beneficial if you need to bring staff with particular skills and experience to the UK to carry out projects and provide training.
Garth Coates is a leading niche immigration firm based in the heart of London, specialising in all forms of personal and business immigration, including visas, global mobility, sponsorship and compliance, settlement, and citizenship. To discuss how the Global Business Mobility scheme may benefit your organisation, please contact one of our friendly and approachable business immigration Solicitors on Tel: +44 (0)20 7799 1600 or by completing our online contact form.