Spotlight On: Intra-Company
2 September 2020
The Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa is a temporary immigration route which enables multi-national companies to transfer their overseas employees to a UK subsidiary branch of the business for temporary assignments.
This route offers global organisations the flexibility to move their existing employees to the UK to undertake work or training without going through the more complex application process of a Tier 2 (General) visa.
The Intra-Company Transfer visa is available for either long-term staff or graduate trainees, each with slightly different conditions and eligibility requirements. Here, we take a look at who is eligible to apply for an ICT visa and what changes will apply to this route when the UK implements its new points-based immigration system on 1 January 2021.
Who can apply for an Intra-Company Transfer visa?
The ICT immigration route is open to existing skilled employees of the sending business, who are being transferred to a UK branch or subsidiary of that business.
In order to meet the eligibility criteria for this route, applicants must:
- Have been employed by the sending business for at least 12 months for long-term staff, or three months for graduate trainees. You do not need to meet this requirement if your salary in the UK will be £73,900 or more per year.
- Have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a licenced sponsor.
- Meet the minimum salary requirement of £41,500 for long-term staff, or £23,000 for graduate trainees.
- Be employed in a role skilled to RQF level 6.
- Have personal savings of at least £945 to support yourself in the UK, or confirmation from an A-rated sponsor that they will provide this amount if you need it.
What are the conditions and requirements?
The maximum length of stay for each type of ICT visa is as follows:
- Long-term staff earning more than £120,000 a year – 9 years
- Long-term staff earning less than £120,000 a year – 5 years
- Graduate trainees – 12 months
Like the Skilled Worker route, applicants are required to pay the application fee as well as the Immigration Health Surcharge, and there will be no access to public funds under this route. Employers will also be required to pay the Immigration Skills Charge when transferring staff to the UK on an ICT visa.
The Intra-Company Transfer visa route does not provide a pathway to settlement in the UK. However, from January, those holding an ICT visa will be able to switch into the new Skilled Worker route whilst still in the UK, providing they meet the requirements for that route.
In a bid to make the new immigration rules more flexible for shorter-term assignments, applicants will no longer be required to complete a ‘cooling off’ period before switching. Previously, workers on an ICT visa were required to complete a 12 month cooling off period before applying for another Tier 2 visa.
Instead, the new rules will simply require that overseas intra-company transfers may not hold entry clearance, leave to enter or leave to remain as an intra-company transferee for more than five years in any six-year period.
The current exception which qualifies ICT visa holders to spend up to nine years in the UK on the basis of their salary will still apply under the new system.
Help with transferring employees to the UK
If your business needs to transfer overseas staff to the UK for temporary assignments, Smith Stone Walters can help.
We have worked with a wide range of global companies to facilitate Intra-Company Transfers, so by partnering with us you can relax in the knowledge that your employee transfers will be fully compliant with immigration law.
To discuss your requirements and find out how we can help, contact us today.