- Are you eligible for a UK Senior or Specialist Worker Visa?
- What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?
- Evidence of working for a employer outside the UK
- Is your job eligible for a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa?
- Can you bring dependents on a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa?
- How much does a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa cost?
- Financial requirement for a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa
- What documents are required?
- How to apply for a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa
- Frequently Asked Questions
Senior or Specialist Worker Visa
The Senior or Specialist worker visa allows overseas nationals to work in the UK for a UK branch of their existing employer.
This new visa replaced the intra-company transfer visa or Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Long-term Staff visa and is aimed at certain occupations and roles – usually more senior managers or specialist workers with specific skills.
In addition, the UK senior or specialist worker visa is designed to be a non-immigrant visa aimed at fulfilling temporary work assignments and there is not the option for the visa holder to apply for UK settlement or Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK.
However, Senior or Specialist Worker Visa holders may be able to switch to another UK visa route that could allow them to become a British citizen in the long term.
Are you Eligible for a UK Senior or Specialist Worker Visa?
To be eligible for this global business mobility visa, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be an specialist employee of a Home Office approved sponsor – this does not need to be a UK business
- Have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer with information on the work you are to do in the UK and your appropriate occupation code
- 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 greater)
- 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
- Worked for your employer for the minimum time outside of the UK
- If you earn less than £73,900 per year, you must have worked for your employer for at least 12 months outside the UK.
- If your salary is £73,900 or more per year, there is no minimum required time to meet the UK visa requirements
What is a Certificate of Sponsorship?
Your employer – also known as your sponsor – will provide you with a ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’. This electronic record will detail the work you will be employed to do in the UK and is a key to you being granted a specialist worker visa.
Specialist Worker Visa applicants will need the reference number from the certificate of sponsorship for their UK visa application. You must apply for your visa within 3 months of getting your certificate of sponsorship otherwise your application will be automatically refused.
Only employers with a Sponsor Licence are able to provide a certificate of sponsorship to senior or specialist workers and they must be approved by the Home Office.
Evidence of Working for Employer Outside of the UK
If you earn below £73,900 per annum then you may be asked to show that you have worked for your sponsoring employer for more than one year. This can be shown via submitting payslips with your visa application.
If you earn less than £73,900 a year you might be asked to show you’ve worked for your employer outside the UK for at least 12 months. If you earn more than £73,900 a year or more, there is no minimum time requirement.
Is Your Job Eligible for a Specialist Worker Visa?
To establish if you have an eligible job to apply for a senior or specialist worker visa you will need to know your four-digit occupation code. This can be found on your Certificate of Sponsorship or you can ask your employer.
You can then check your occupation code against an official list of qualifying senior or specialist worker roles produced by the Home Office.
If you’ve previously qualified for an Intra-company Transfer visa or a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Long-term Staff visa
Immigration rules have changed slightly and the following occupation codes have been removed from the list of qualifying job roles:
- 3411: Artists
- 3412: Authors, writers and translators
- 3413: Actors, entertainers and presenters
- 3414: Dancers and choreographers
- 3422: Product, clothing and related designers
However, if you are already in the UK being sponsored under these role then you can continue working until your visa expires. You may also be able to extend your visa under the global business mobility scheme.
If you change your job while in the UK then the new role must be on the list of eligible occupations and you will need to make an application to update or senior or specialist worker visa.
Can You Bring Dependents on a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa?
Your partner and children can apply to join you or to stay in the UK as your ‘dependants’ if they’re eligible. If their application is successful, their visa will end on the same date as yours.
A dependant partner or child is any of the following:
- your husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner
- your child under 18 – including if they were born in the UK during your stay
- your child over 18 if they’re currently in the UK as your dependant
You must be able to prove that you and are your partner are:
- in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK
- been living together in a relationship for at least 2 years when you apply
If your child is 16 or over they must:
- live with you (unless they’re in full-time education at boarding school, college or university)
- not be married, in a civil partnership or have any children
- be financially supported by you
How Much Does a Senior or Specialist Visa Cost?
There are a number of costs involved with applying for a Senior or Specialist Worker visa and in some cases these costs can be partially paid for by your overseas business employer but it is advisable to check before starting your visa application.
You will need to have enough funds to cover the following:
- the application fee – the standard fee ranges from £625 to £1,423 depending on individual circumstances
- the healthcare surcharge so you can access health services during your time in the UK- this is currently £624 per year
- be able to financially support yourself when you come to the UK – you’ll usually need to have at least £1,270 available
Specialist Worker visa application fee
If you’re applying from outside the UK, the fee depends on whether you’ll be in the UK for:
- up to 3 years – £625 per person
- more than 3 years – £1,235 per person
If you’re applying from inside the UK to extend, switch or update your visa, the fee depends on whether you’ll be in the UK for:
- up to 3 years – £719 per person
- more than 3 years – £1,423 per person
Financial requirement for senior or specialist worker visa
On arrival in the UK you must have at least £1,270 available to you and you must be able to prove you have access to the funds for a certain time period – usually via bank statements.
You may be exempt from this requirement if you have already been in the UK on a valid visa for more than year or your employer will be covering your initial costs. If this is the case, then your certificate of sponsorship will need to confirm this and your overseas employer will need to complete the sponsor certifies maintenance section.
What Documents are Required for a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa?
When applying via the specialist worker route you’ll need to provide the following:
- your certificate of sponsorship reference number – your employer will provide this
- a valid passport or other document that shows your identity and nationality
- your job title and annual salary
- your job’s occupation code
- the name of your employer and their sponsor licence number – this will be on your certificate of sponsorship
- evidence that you have enough savings to support yourself – this can be in the form of a bank statement or a bank letter
- proof of your relationship with any dependents if they’re applying with you
- you may be asked to provide a negative tuberculosis test depending on your home country
You may also be required to provide the following documents to the immigration service to allow them to process you visa application successfully:
- evidence you’ve worked for your employer outside the UK
- a valid ATAS certification – this is required if your job involves researching a sensitive subject at PhD level or higher
- Provide your biometric information to a visa application centre
If any supporting documents you provide are not in English or Welsh then you will need to provide a certified translation.
How to apply for the UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa
You can apply for the UK senior or specialist worker visa online and you must complete your application within three months of getting your certificate of sponsorship from your employer. As well as providing a range of documents, you will need to prove your identify – this can be done in person at a visa application centre or using the UK Immigration: ID Check app.
Last modified on April 17th, 2023 at 2:30 pm
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A UK Senior or Specialist Worker visa can be granted for five years or the time given on your certificate of sponsorship + 14 days, whichever is the shorter period.
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. Eligible visas include:
- Graduate Trainee Visa
- Secondment Worker Visa
- Service Supplier Visa
- UK Expansion Worker Visa
The 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.
The Home Office suggests that processing times for a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa application is around eight weeks. However, this time can vary significantly especially if you fail to submit the correct documents or need to attend an in-person interview.
To avoid unnecessary delays or costs it may be worth seeking the advice of immigration lawyers to help prevent any complications or a possible refusal.
Yes, it may be possible to bring dependents of Senior or Specialist Worker visa holders to the UK
Dependent family members of a Senior or Specialist Worker visa holder include:
- husband, wife, civil partner, or unmarried partner
- children under the age of 18 – including children who were born in the UK during the visa holder’s time in the UK
- children over the age of 18 living in the UK who are dependent on the visa holder
The Senior or Specialist Worker visa grants you permission to work for the employer that originally sponsored your application in the role that you were sponsored for.
If you wish to work for a new employer or if you want to switch to a job of a different occupation code with the same employer you will must apply to update your Senior or Specialist Worker Visa.