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Senior or Specialist Worker Visa Requirements

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With the recent launch of various new business immigration routes, overseas organisations looking to transfer staff to a subsidiary or branch in the UK must now be concentrating on the Global Business Mobility visa senior or specialist worker eligibility requirements.

In this guidance, we look in detail at these requirements, for both primary applicants and their family members, providing an overview of who is eligible and what this visa allows.

 

What is the Global Business Mobility senior or specialist worker visa?

The Global Business Mobility (GBM) visa is an umbrella visa comprising a number of different sponsored immigration routes for overseas businesses looking to either establish a UK presence or transfer staff to the UK, including the GBM senior or specialist worker route. Along with four other sponsored routes, the Global Business Mobility senior or specialist worker visa opened to applicants on 11 April 2022.

This new category of visa replaces the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa under the UK’s points-based immigration system, with applications under the ICT route no longer being accepted. However, ICT visa-holders already in the UK will not be affected, where their existing visa will continue until its expiry date.

 

Who is eligible under the GBM senior or specialist worker route?

The GBM senior or specialist worker route is designed for either senior managers or specialist employees looking to be assigned to a UK business that’s linked to their employer overseas, and who wish to undertake temporary work assignments in the UK. A senior or specialist worker is someone who has, or last had, permission under either the Global Business Mobility route or Intra-Company Transfer route under the rules in force before 11 April 2022.

If an application for a GBM senior or specialist worker visa is successful, leave to work in the UK in this capacity will be granted for at least the duration of the temporary work assignment, provided this is less than the maximum amount of time permitted under the rules.

 

What does the GBM senior or specialist worker visa allow?

On the grant of a GBM senior or specialist worker visa, the visa-holder will be allowed to come to the UK to undertake the job role for which they’re being sponsored to do, typically for the duration of that role, plus a period of 14 days.

However, even though this category of visa is designed for overseas workers undertaking temporary work assignments in the UK, a GBM senior or specialist worker visa-holder will be able to apply to extend this visa from within the UK — provided they continue to meet the Global Business Mobility visa senior or specialist worker eligibility requirements. Existing ICT visa-holders will also be able to apply to extend their stay under the new GBM senior or specialist worker rules, provided they too meet the relevant requirements.

The maximum period of stay in the UK will depend on how much the senior or specialist worker earns. For those being paid a gross salary of less than £73,900 per year, they’ll be able to remain in the UK for up to 5 years in any 6-year period. This will be calculated by looking at the cumulative permission under both the GBM and ICT routes. In contrast, for those working in the UK as a high earner, being paid a salary of £73,900 per year or more, they’ll be able to live and work in the UK for up to 9 years in any 10-year period.

The Global Business Mobility visa senior or specialist worker route does not provide a path to settlement in the UK. This means that the senior or specialist worker visa-holder will not be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain, although they may be able to switch into a different route, such as the Skilled Worker route, to enable them to settle in the UK long-term.

 

What are the eligibility requirements for senior or specialist workers?

Under the Global Business Mobility visa senior or specialist worker eligibility requirements, where applicable, an applicant must provide a valid tuberculosis test certificate.

They must also meet a financial requirement, although they’ll not be required to satisfy an English language requirement. When applying for entry clearance, or where the applicant has been living in the UK for less than 12 months, they must have proof of savings of at least £1,270. This is to show that they can support themselves without relying on public funds. Alternatively, the applicant’s sponsor can certify maintenance and accommodation on their Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) up to the end of the first month of employment.

Additionally, to be eligible for a GBM senior or specialist worker visa, an applicant must be awarded 60 points under three main headings: sponsorship (20 points); a job at an appropriate skill level (20 points); and a salary for that job at the required level (20 points).

 

Points for sponsorship

To obtain the requisite 20 points for sponsorship, the following requirements must be met:

  • the applicant must have a valid CoS for the job they’re planning to do — this must confirm their name, that they’re being sponsored as a senior or specialist worker, details of their job and salary, a start date for the job which is no more than 3 months post-application, and unless the applicant is applying as a high earner, confirming that they’ve worked outside the UK for the sponsor group for the period required;
  • the UK sponsor must be authorised by the Home Office to sponsor a senior or specialist worker, and the sponsor must have paid in full any required Immigration Skills Charge.

 

At the date of application, the applicant must be working for the sponsor group and, unless they’re applying as a high earner, they must have worked for that employer outside the UK for a cumulative period of at least 12 months. The Home Office must also be satisfied that the job offer in the UK is genuine, rather than a sham created so that the applicant can apply for leave. Equally, the Home Office must not have reasonable grounds to believe that the job the applicant is being sponsored to do amounts to the hire of that individual to a third party who is not the sponsor, or contract work to undertake an ongoing routine role or service.

 

Points for job at appropriate skill level

To obtain the requisite 20 points for a job at an appropriate skill level, the applicant must be sponsored for an eligible role at or above a minimum skill level for a GBM senior or specialist worker. This means that it must be a job listed under Appendix Skilled Occupations of the UK’s Immigration Rules, that’s identified as eligible for the Global Business Mobility routes.

The Home Office must be satisfied that the occupation code selected by the sponsor is the appropriate code, and not one chosen either because the most appropriate code is not eligible under the GBM routes or has a higher going rate than the proposed salary. In determining whether the code is correct, the Home Office will consider whether or not the sponsor has a genuine need for the job described, whether the applicant has the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience needed to do that job, and the sponsor’s history of immigration compliance, including paying its sponsored workers appropriately.

 

Points for salary at required level

To obtain the requisite 20 points for a salary at the required level, the salary for the job in the UK for which the applicant is being sponsored must either equal or exceed both the general salary requirement for a senior or specialist worker of £42,400 or the ‘going rate’ for that job.

 

What are the sponsorship requirements for senior or specialist workers?

To obtain a GBM senior or specialist worker visa, the applicant will need to be sponsored by a Home Office approved employer authorised to sponsor this category of worker. Sponsorship under this route operates on the principle that the UK business receiving the worker will be the sponsor licence holder, where applicants would need to demonstrate that they have a receiving business, a sending business and that there’s a relationship between the two.

To sponsor a worker under the GBM senior or specialist worker route, a business must first hold an A-rated sponsor licence. Businesses should therefore be taking steps to apply for a sponsor licence, if not already on the register of licensed sponsors, or to add senior or specialist workers to their existing licence. Only once permission has been granted by the Home Office can the UK employer assign a valid CoS to a prospective overseas transferee.

 

Can dependents accompany or join GBM senior or specialist workers?

Both partners and dependent children can accompany or join a GBM senior or specialist worker visa-holder. However, to be eligible to come to the UK under this route, there are again various eligibility requirements, including a relationship and financial requirement.

For the unmarried partner of a senior or specialist worker, the couple must have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage or a civil partnership for at least two years. Further, any previous relationship of the applicant or primary visa-holder must have permanently broken down, and the couple must not be so closely related that they wouldn’t be allowed to marry or form a civil partnership in the UK. The relationship must also be genuine and subsisting, where both parties intend to live together throughout the applicant’s stay.

In the case of dependent children, the applicant must be the child of a parent who has been, or is at the same time being granted, permission on the GBM senior or specialist worker route, or as a partner of a senior or specialist worker. The applicant’s parents must be applying at the same time or have permission to be in the UK, other than as a visitor, unless:

  • the parent is the sole surviving parent or has sole responsibility for the child’s upbringing
  • the parent who doesn’t have permission as a senior or specialist worker is a British citizen or a person with a right to enter or stay in the UK without restriction, and is, or will be, ordinarily resident in the UK, or
  • there are serious and compelling reasons to grant the child leave.

 

There must be suitable arrangements already in place for the child’s care and accommodation in the UK. The child must also be aged under 18 at the date of their application, and if the child is aged 16 or over, they must not be leading an independent life.

In respect of the financial requirement, a certain level of funds must usually be held by either the applicant and/or the GBM senior or specialist worker visa-holder or parent. This is set at £285 for a partner, £315 for the first child and £200 each for any subsequent children. Alternatively, the employer of the primary visa-holder can confirm on the CoS that they’ll maintain and accommodate any dependants up to the end of their first month in the UK.

 

Need assistance?

We are specialists in UK business immigration, with substantial experience and recognised expertise in advising employers and workers on UK employment sponsorship, sponsor licence applications and management, and visa applications such as the Senior or Specialist Worker GBM visa. For specialist immigration advice to support your talent mobility and business operations, contact us.

 

Senior or Specialist Worker visa FAQs 

What is the GBM senior or specialist worker visa?

The GBM senior or specialist worker visa is specifically designed for senior managers and specialist employees being assigned to a UK business that's linked to their employer overseas, and who wish to undertake a temporary work assignment in the UK.

Does the GBM visa need sponsorship?

To obtain a Global Business Mobility (GBM) visa, the GBM applicant will need to be sponsored by an employer in the UK authorised to sponsor under this route. They’ll also need to be assigned a valid Certificate of Sponsorship.

How long does it take to get a GBM visa?

It’s expected to take around 3 weeks for a decision to be made on an application for a GBM visa when applying from outside the UK, and around 8 weeks when applying to extend this visa from within the UK.

Last updated: 18 March 2022 

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