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Senior and Specialist Worker visa

Senior or specialist workers - key features

The Senior or Specialist Worker visa route is ideal for supporting your business growth strategy in the United Kingdom. It can be used to transfer key execs and employees with specialist skills from your overseas business to your UK branch to undertake work assignments in the UK. This can be particularly useful if you need to deliver time critical projects in the UK and need key people on hand. This route has replaced the Intra-Company Transfer visa.

Before starting the visa process, the UK branch of the overseas company must secure a Global Business Mobility - Senior or Specialist Worker licence to sponsor workers in this category. If the business already holds a licence, a new tier can be added to the existing licence. Once the business holds a licence, it will be able to secure and assign certificates of sponsorship to the relevant overseas senior executives, who can then secure visa clearance to live in the UK and work for the UK business.

To secure visa clearance, the employee must be employed in an eligible role. The team at Freeths can help you to determine whether the role will be eligible for a Senior or Specialist Worker visa. The employee must be earning at least £48,500 for their work in the UK or at least the going rate for the role if this is higher. They must have worked for the overseas business for at least a year before applying to transfer to the UK, unless they are a high earner, in which case there is no minimum term of service overseas.

A key advantage of the Senior and Specialist Worker route over the Skilled Worker route is that the visa applicants do not need to meet an English language requirement. This means that the visa can be secured in a shorter time frame and means that execs can avoid the inconvenience of taking an English language test.

Length and conditions of grant

The Senior or Specialist Worker visa can be granted for up to 5 years. The maximum cumulative period allowed, in combination with other Global Business Mobility routes, is 5 years in any 6-year period, or 9 years in any 10-year period for high earners. This route does not lead to settlement but can be added to other visas as a route to settlement or used as part of the cumulative 10-year period required for settlement based on long residence.

Senior or Specialist Worker visa holders can work for the UK entity, as described in their certificate of sponsorship. They can travel abroad and return to the UK within the validity period of their visa. They can study and undertake voluntary work. They will have access to NHS services in the UK but will not be able to access public funds.

This route allows dependants to accompany or join the main visa holder in the UK.

How can our immigration lawyers help?

At Freeths, we are experts at supporting your executives and their family members throughout the visa process. We can provide you and your execs with peace of mind, knowing that the licence and visa element of their move to the UK will be dealt with successfully and quickly.

We will discuss your plans and advise whether a Senior or Specialist Worker Visa is the best solution. We will prepare

the visa application, advise on and carefully review the supporting documents and submit the application to UKVI via their visa processing partner organisation.

We can use a priority service for the licence and visa applications, to ensure a speedy outcome.  

Our fees are transparent. We offer a fair pricing structure which will be agreed with you at the outset, giving you certainty about the overall cost of the end-to-end process.

If you would like to know more about the Senior or Specialist Worker visa route, or need help with an application, please contact our immigration team, who are on hand to help.   

Contact our business immigration team:

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