What is a Secondment Worker Visa?

The Secondment Worker Visa is part of the UK’s Global Business Mobility visa scheme, which seeks to meet the immigration and skills needs of British businesses. This particular visa is designed for overseas companies that have a high-value contract with a UK organisation and need to transfer one of their employees to the UK. If a suitable contract is in place, then an assessment can be made on the candidate’s suitability for the visa based on the job role, the length of their employment, and the issuance of a Certificate of Sponsorship.

Successful candidates can come to the UK for up to 12 months, with the option of a subsequent 12-month extension if all the qualifying criteria are met. While it’s not the most common or flexible visa, it serves an important niche market and helps meet British businesses’ needs.

Eligibility for a Secondment Worker Visa

There are several different eligibility requirements that you must meet to be eligible for a Secondment Worker Visa. The following requirements apply:

  • Sponsor Licence: Your UK sponsor must hold a UK Sponsor Licence, allowing them to employ overseas nationals.
  • Certificate of Sponsorship: Your UK sponsor must provide you with a Certificate of Sponsorship outlining the details of the work you will undertake in the UK.
  • Employment: You must have worked for your overseas employer for at least 12 months.
  • Job Eligibility: The role you will be undertaking must be included in the list of eligible occupations.
  • High-Value Contract: Your overseas employer must have a high-value contract with your UK sponsor worth at least £50 million
  • Maintenance Funds: You must demonstrate you hold sufficient funds to support yourself and any dependants during your first month in the UK.

If you can satisfy each of the above requirements, you can proceed with an application.

Eligibility Requirements in Further Detail

Certificate of Sponsorship Requirement

Your UK sponsor will issue you with an electronic document called a Certificate of Sponsorship. This document outlines your specific work obligations in the UK and the intended start date. Only companies with a valid Sponsor Licence can generate this certificate through the Sponsor Management System (SMS).

The Certificate of Sponsorship exists only in digital format; it’s not issued as a physical paper document. To connect it to your visa application, you’ll need the reference number specified in your Certificate of Sponsorship when you apply for your visa. These certificates can be generated in advance of your proposed start date. However, submitting your visa application within three months of receiving the certificate is essential.

Job Eligibility Requirement

Certain job positions do not qualify for a Secondment Worker Visa. Only roles specified on the Eligible Occupations List are eligible for consideration under this visa. Confirming that your role aligns with this list and that your job description and duties correspond to the designated role is crucial. Each role on the list is assigned a 4-digit occupation code, which must be accurately stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship by your employer when generating it.

Maintenance Requirement

To prove your ability to sustain yourself in the UK, you must maintain a minimum balance of £1,270 in your bank account for a continuous 28-day period, ending 31 days before your visa application submission. If your spouse or children accompany you, they must also display the following additional balances:

  • £285 for your partner
  • £315 for one child
  • £200 for each additional child

Your employer can support you during your initial month in the UK, but only if this assistance is explicitly stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship. Your employer must fill out the ‘sponsor certifies maintenance’ section on your certificate under ‘Additional data.’

Duration of the Secondment Worker Visa

Under a Secondment Worker Visa, you are entitled to stay in the UK for the lesser of:

  • The length of time stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship, plus an additional 14 days
  • 12 months after the declared start date as stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship

The initial visa has a maximum duration of 12 months but can be extended by a further 12 months. However, the maximum time you can stay in the UK on a Secondment Worker Visa is 24 months.

As well as the 24 month limit on a Secondment Worker Visa, there is also a limit on the total time you can spend on Global Business Mobility Visas.

If you have been on any of the following visas, you are limited to a maximum stay of 5 years within a 6-year period in the UK:

  • Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa
  • Intra-company Transfer visa
  • Graduate Trainee visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • Secondment Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • Senior or Specialist Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • Service Supplier visa (Global Business Mobility)
  • UK Expansion Worker visa (Global Business Mobility)

Rights and Entitlements on a Secondment Worker Visa

On a Secondment Worker visa, you have more restrictions than other worker visas, such as the Skilled Worker visa. However, under the visa, you are still permitted to engage in the following activities:

  • Working for your UK sponsor in the role specified in your Certificate of Sponsorship.
  • Undertake studies or educational programs.
  • Bring your eligible dependant partner and children to the UK.
  • Undertake voluntary work.
  • Travel abroad and return to the UK.

You need to be aware of some significant restrictions associated with the Secondment Worker visa. These restrictions include:

  • You cannot claim most public funds, benefits, or the State Pension.
  • You cannot change your job unless you update your visa.
  • You are not allowed to undertake a secondary job in the UK.
  • The time spent under a Secondment Worker visa does not count towards Indefinite Leave to Remain.

UKVI includes a comprehensive list of what you can and can’t do when your visa is approved. You must abide by these rules at all times; otherwise, you will be in breach of the UK’s immigration rules.

Document List for a Secondment Worker Visa

When applying for a Secondment Worker visa, you will need to supply a number of different documents. These include:

  • The reference number as indicated on your Certificate of Sponsorship.
  • A valid passport or another document that proves your identity and nationality.
  • Your job title and the specific job occupation code from the list of eligible occupations.
  • The name of your UK sponsor and their sponsor licence number (this can be found on your Certificate of Sponsorship).
  • Evidence of personal savings to support yourself and any dependants in the UK, such as bank statements (unless your certificate of sponsorship states that your employer will support you financially).
  • Evidence of your relationship with any dependant partner or children, such as birth or marriage certificates.
  • Your tuberculosis test result certificate if you’re from a country where TB is prevalent


Additional Documents

Depending on your circumstances, you might also be asked to provide:

  • Proof of employment with your overseas employer for the last 12 months, such as payslips and bank statements.
  • If your job involves conducting sensitive research at a PhD level or higher, your employer may inform you of the requirement for a valid ATAS certificate.

Secondment Worker Visa Costs

There are a few different costs associated with a Secondment Worker Visa. Before applying, you should discuss with your overseas employer and the UK sponsor who is responsible for paying each of these fees.

The fees applicable are as follows:

  • Certificate of Sponsorship fee = £239
  • Secondment Worker Visa fee = £298 (plus £298 for each dependant)
  • Immigration Health Surcharge fee = £624 per year for adults and £470 for children under 18. This is payable by the main applicant and each dependant.

When submitting your online application, you will be advised how much needs to be paid. You will also need to make payment at this stage to be able to schedule a biometric appointment and submit your application.

Secondment Worker Visa Processing Time

The visa processing timeline begins once you’ve finished the online application, uploaded the necessary documents, and attended your biometric appointment. Typically, a decision is reached within three weeks for applications within the UK and eight weeks for those outside the country.

If you require certainty on your arrival for work in the UK:

  • Opt for priority or super-priority services to hasten the process, albeit with added charges, ensuring a decision in one or five working days based on the service chosen.
  • Apply up to three months before your scheduled UK work start date, as specified on your Certificate of Sponsorship.

Visa processing times may vary, so applying well in advance is advisable. In the case of a pressing deadline, choosing a priority service ensures sufficient processing time for the visa.