On 28 September 2020 the Home Office asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to undertake a study of the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) immigration route.
The Tier 2 (ICT) route exists alongside the Tier 2 (General) route for skilled workers in the current points-based immigration system. It allows employers to move existing employees from overseas offices to roles in the UK if they:
- have been employed by the sending organisation for at least 12 months prior to date of transfer (3 months for graduate trainees)
- meet the minimum salary requirement of £41,500 year, and
- meet the cooling off period.
Currently, 12 months employment with the sending business, prior to the date of transfer, is not required for high earners with a salary of £73,900 or more. However, the new policy document does not mention waiving this requirement, therefore it may be in place for all earners.
The rules regarding the cooling off period have also been updated to provide a more flexible provision for shorter-term assignments. According to the existing rules a migrant cannot return under Tier 2 sponsorship within 12 months of holding this status. This will be replaced with the rule that an overseas intra-company transfer must not hold entry clearance or leave to enter or remain as an intra-company transferee for more than five years in any six-year period, except where they qualify to be granted up to nine years on the basis of their salary.
This route cannot be used to transfer a migrant who is employed by an organisation which is not linked by common ownership or control, but who has been contracted by their own employer to work for one of the overseas linked entities.
Example: Company A overseas and Company B in the UK is linked by common ownership or control. The migrant is employed by Company C overseas, which is not linked by common ownership or control to Company A or Company B, but they have been contracted by Company C to work at Company A. This migrant cannot move to Company B under the Tier 2 (ICT) category.
A new points-based immigration system will become operational from January 2021.
Whilst the Tier 2 (General) route will be replaced by the ‘Skilled Worker’ route and will have a lower salary and skills threshold, the Home Secretary’s intention is to keep the terms of the ICT route, initially, the same as now.
Therefore, Tier 2 (ICT) migrants will be required to be employed in highly skilled occupations at RQF level 6 & above and will be subject to the minimum salary threshold of £41,500 per annum. There is no English language requirement and graduate trainees also qualify. However, this route does not lead to settlement in the UK.
The policy document entitled ‘UK Points-Based Immigration System Further Details’ published in July 2020 mentioned the possibility of those admitted on the new Tier 2 (ICT) route to switch into the ‘Skilled Worker’ route whilst still in the UK, provided they meet the requirements of that route.
The last time an in-country switch from Tier 2 ICT to Tier 2 General was permitted was prior to August 2011 for those who entered the UK before April 2011. Tier 2 (ICT) migrants have welcomed this news.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is due to complete its analysis by the end of October 2021.
It has been several years since the operation and effectiveness of this route have been considered. The MAC has been asked to advise on:
- salary threshold for entry to the ICT route
- what elements if any, beyond base salary should count towards meeting the salary requirement
- whether, as now, different arrangements should apply to the very highly paid
- what the skills threshold for the route should be
- conditions of the route, in particular those where it differs from the main Tier 2 (General) / Skilled Worker route, which may mean qualifying for settlement.
As part of this review the MAC will undertake its usual Call for Evidence at the beginning of 2021 and will also run engagement events with key stakeholders.
If you are an organisation that currently sponsors migrants on the Tier 2 (ICT) route, please share your ideas on what changes you would like to see in the terms of this route.
The Home Office is also looking to expand its mobility offer to enable overseas businesses to send teams of workers to establish a branch / subsidiary. Under the current rules only a sole representative of an overseas business is permitted to set up a branch or subsidiary in the UK.
The MAC will be looking at where the Home Office should set any criteria on the eligibility of the workers (skills and salary thresholds) and the sending organisations (size of the company, value of investment or contract & potential job creation).
Migrate UK has extensive experience in this area of immigration law. We are retained as in-house immigration advisors to some of the world’s largest most recognisable organisations, as well as individuals, both here in the UK and worldwide. Contact us for free initial advice on 01235 841 568 or email@example.com