Senior or Specialist Worker Visa
A Senior or Specialist Worker visa is for multinational companies who wish to transfer skilled workers from their overseas offices to come and work in their United Kingdom (UK) based entity.
Following the end of the transitional period on 1 January 2021, the Senior or Specialist Worker visa is also applicable to EEA nationals.
However, the Senior or Specialist Worker visa visa requirements do not apply to Irish Citizens.
Does the UK based entity need a UK Visas & Immigration (‘UKVI’) Sponsor Licence to recruit ICT workers?
Companies who wish to transfer employees from their offices from outside of the UK, will be required to apply for an ICT sponsor licence.
As part of the sponsor licence application, companies will be required to establish a direct link between the UK based company and the foreign company by common ownership or control.
Once the sponsor licence has been granted, the company will be able to offer Certificate of Sponsorships (‘CoS’) to prospective employees to come and work in the UK.
For more information on obtaining a UKVI sponsor licence, please refer to our sponsor licence article. .
Who is eligible to enter the UK on a ICT visa?
There are currently two types of ‘worker’ categories that fall within the ICT visa route:
Long term staff under the ICT visa route would be required to have worked for the company for at least 12 months, or be paid an annual salary of more than £73,900.00 to work in the UK.
ICT Graduate Trainees
Graduate Trainees under the ICT visa route would need to be a recent graduate with at least 3 months experience working for the company overseas.
The Graduate Trainee must also be part of a structured graduate training programme with a clearly defined progression towards a managerial or specialist role within the organisation.
Satisfying the Points Based System (‘PBS’) criteria
As part of the ICT visa application, prospective employees must score 60 points under the immigration Points Based System (‘PBS’) by satisfying the following criteria:
Certificate of Sponsorship (‘CoS’) – 20 points
The prospective employee must receive an offer of employment from an approved ICT licensed sponsor to come and work for the company in the UK.
Once the employee has been offered a position within the company in the UK, the company is required to provide a CoS to the employee.
The employee will not be able to submit an online application for an ICT visa without the relevant CoS reference number which will be stated on the CoS.
The CoS will also mention relevant employment details such as the employee’s name, employment details, salary details, employment start date, etc.
The CoS must also be used within 3 months of it being assigned to the prospective employee.
Job at an ‘appropriate skill level’ – 20 points
The company will be required to establish that they can offer genuine skilled employment to the prospective employee they wish to transfer to their UK entity.
Unlike the skilled worker route, the minimum skill level for the ICT visa route is RQF Level 6 or above.
When a company assigns a CoS to the prospective employee on the ICT route, the company must also choose an appropriate occupation code for the job from the ‘Appendix Skilled Worker’ occupation list.
If the relevant job in question is not stated within the Appendix Skilled Worker occupation list, then unfortunately the job will not be applicable for the ICT visa category, or the skilled worker visa category.
Appropriate Salary – 20 points
The minimum annual salary requirements for ICT workers is currently set at £41,500.00 and for ‘Graduate Trainees’ it is currently set at £23,000.00.
However, similar to the skilled worker visa category, the salary must equal or exceed both the minimum annual salary, and the ‘going rate’ for the job, whichever is higher.
Is there a maintenance requirement to satisfy?
Apart from satisfying the required 60 points, the employee will also be required to show personal savings of least £1,270.00 which must have been held for at least 28 days before the date of your application.
If the company is an ‘A-rated’ UKVI approved sponsor, the company will be able to ‘certify the employee’s maintenance’ up to the end of the first month of employment in the UK.
The employee will not be required to provide any evidence of their finances if the company certifies the maintenance on the CoS.
Furthermore, if an employee has had permission to stay in the UK for more than 12 months, the employee will not be required to meet the maintenance requirement.
How long can ICT visa holders spend in the UK?
If an employee earns more than £73,900.00 a year, the maximum length of time the employee can remain in the UK is 9 years in any 10 year period.
If an employee earns less than £73,900.00 a year, the maximum length of time the employee can remain in the UK is 5 years in any 6 year period.
The maximum length of time a Graduate Trainee can remain in the UK is 12 months.
Can ICT visa holders settle in the UK?
Unlike the skilled worker visa route, an ICT visa does not lead to settlement in the UK.
However, ICT visa holders are now permitted to switch to the skilled worker visa route which can lead to settlement in the UK.
Can your dependent family members accompany or join in the UK?
The ICT visa route allows dependent family members to accompany you to the UK or join you if you’re already in the UK.
Can you switch into a ICT visa category from inside the UK?
Individuals who are currently in the UK on another immigration route are permitted to ‘switch’ into the ICT visa route as long as they are not in the UK in any one of the following visa categories:
- Short-term student
- Parent of a Child Student
- Seasonal Worker
- Domestic Worker in a Private Household
- Leave granted Outside the Immigration Rules
How we can help?
Our business immigration experts at Cartwright King Solicitors have substantial experience and knowledge in advising both employers and prospective employees in relation to Senior or Specialist Worker visa visas and Skilled Worker visas.
If you or your business require further advice in relation to Senior or Specialist Worker visas, please contact our business immigration experts here and one of our lawyers from our business Immigration team will contact you.
All advice is correct at time of publication.