3 key changes under the new
Senior or Specialist
Worker visa

On 11 April 2022, applications opened for the UK’s ‘Senior or Specialist Worker’ visa, one of five new immigration routes launched last week under the umbrella of the new Global Business Mobility route. The Senior or Specialist Worker visa has replaced the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa, which closed to new applicants last week.

The Senior or Specialist Worker visa is for senior managers or specialist employees who are being assigned by their overseas employer to a linked UK business. Like its predecessor the ICT visa, a Senior or Specialist Worker visa is designed to allow existing employees of an overseas business to come to or stay in the UK to complete a temporary assignment at their employer’s UK branch.

In order to qualify for a Senior or Specialist Worker visa, you must:

  • Be an existing employee of an organisation that’s been approved by the Home Office as a sponsor.
  • Have a ‘Certificate of Sponsorship’ (CoS) from your employer with information about the work you will do in the UK.
  • Do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations.
  • Be paid the minimum eligible salary required for your job.

Although many of the key principles remain unchanged from the predecessor ICT route, the rebranded and updated Senior or Specialist Worker visa introduces some key changes that employers and applicants should be aware of. Below, we explore three of the main differences.

New salary requirements

An important change that has been introduced with the new route is a higher minimum salary threshold. To be eligible for a Senior or Specialist Worker route, applicants must be paid at least £42,400 per year or the ‘going rate’ for their occupation, whichever is higher. This has increased compared to the predecessor ICT route, which held a minimum salary requirement of £41,500.

Like the ICT route, different rules remain in place under the new route for ‘high earners’ whose salary in the UK will be £73,900 a year or more. 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. For those earning £73,900 a year or more, there is no minimum time requirement. High earners are also permitted to stay in the UK for a longer period of time. The maximum total stay allowed for a Senior or Specialist Worker visa is:

  • 5 years in any 6 year period if you’re paid less than £73,900 a year.
  • 9 years in any 10 year period if you’re paid £73,900 a year or more.

Supplementary work is no longer permitted

Under the ICT route, transferees were permitted to undertake other work in addition to their sponsored work. This is known as ‘supplementary employment’. Under the old rules, ICT visa holders could work in a second job up to a maximum of 20 hours per week, as long as the supplementary work was in the same profession and at the same professional level as the worker’s main job detailed on the CoS, or a job on the Shortage Occupation List.

However, the rules surrounding supplementary work have changed with the route’s rebranding, and individuals in the UK on a Senior or Specialist Worker visa are not permitted to work a second job in addition to the role detailed on the CoS, unless a transitional arrangement applies.

Under the transitional arrangements, a worker granted permission as a Senior or Specialist Worker can take supplementary employment only if all of the following are true:

  • The application which led to their current grant was for permission to stay (not entry clearance).
  • The worker was previously granted permission under the Intra-Company routes in place before 11 April 2022.
  • The worker has, since then, continuously had permission as a Senior or Specialist Worker (including any period of overstaying disregarded under paragraph 39E of the Immigration Rules).

In all other cases, Senior or Specialist Workers are not permitted to take supplementary employment.

Some creative sector roles are no longer eligible

Some roles have been removed from the list of eligible occupations for the Global Business Mobility visa, and creative sector jobs below RQF level 6 are no longer eligible for the route (unless a transitional arrangement applies). The following occupation codes have been removed from the list of eligible occupations for this visa:

  • 3411: Artists
  • 3412: Authors, writers and translators
  • 3413: Actors, entertainers and presenters
  • 3414: Dancers and choreographers
  • 3422: Product, clothing and related designers

If you’re already sponsored in one of these occupation codes you can continue working in your job until your visa expires. You can also extend your visa to continue working in the exact same job. If you do not want to continue working in one of the occupations above, you can switch your job if it is on the list of eligible occupations. If your job changes you must apply to update your visa.

Learn more about the new Global Business Mobility routes

Employers wishing to find out more about the UK’s new Global Business Mobility routes and how the changes may impact their business should contact Smith Stone Walters for advice.

To speak to a business immigration expert, please contact us today.

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