Intra-Company Transfer Permits For Company Branch Overseas
With the international expansion of businesses now the norm in our global economy, it is commonplace for employees based in one country to relocate to another to work. Whether for a new project, to provide training, oversee the roll-out of new products and services, or for any other reason, it makes sense for international corporations to transfer those with specific skills and experience to carry out activities in branches or subsidiaries in other countries. Many countries now have immigration routes that allow workers to transfer within international businesses for this precise reason. In the UK, this is referred to as the Intra-company Transfer visa. In this article, we will explain how the Intra-company Transfer visa works, who is eligible, and whether it is possible to bring family members to the UK.
What Is The Intra-Company Transfer Visa?
The Intra-company Transfer (ICT) visa provides permission for existing employees of international businesses with a presence in the UK to carry out their job in this country. There are two types of ICT visa:
- The ICT visa
- The Intra-company graduate trainee visa
The graduate variant of the visa is aimed at allowing those on graduate training programmes or management or specialist roles to come to the UK from an overseas branch of the same organisation. The key difference, as explained below, is the salary requirement is much lower for graduate trainees.
ICT visas are issued for up to five years, and this can be further extended to a maximum of nine years in any ten year period (depending on the salary paid).
With an ICT visa, you will be able to:
- work for your employer (this must only be for the role described on your certificate of sponsorship)
- bring your dependant family members
- take a second job for up to 20 hours a week (this must also be in the same profession as your main job or be on the shortage occupation list)
- undertake unpaid voluntary employment
- travel overseas and return to the UK
ICT visa holders cannot, however, apply for state benefits, change jobs without a new visa, or apply for indefinite leave to remain (i.e. permanent settlement). If granted, your immigration conditions will be clearly outlined on your visa documentation.
Who Is Eligible For An ICT Visa?
In order to acquire an ICT visa, applicants require a Certificate of Sponsorship from their employer. This means that the UK branch of the overseas business must be a registered sponsor licence holder. Applicants must also:
- have worked for their employer outside the UK – for those applying for a standard ICT visa (i.e. non-graduate variant) with a salary of less than £73,900, they must have been with the company for one year or more. If the salary is £73,900 or more, there is no minimum length of employment. Graduates must have been with the business for at least three months immediately prior to applying
- have a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations – only certain jobs are eligible under the ICT visa scheme. Prospective applicants will need to ask their employer for the standard occupation code (SOC), which applies to their role, and check this is listed on the Home Office’s list of eligible occupations. The applicable roles tend to be of a senior nature (e.g. financial, marketing, or sales directors) and/or necessitate considerable expertise (e.g. scientists and engineers).
- be paid the minimum eligible salary required for your job – ICT visa applicants must be paid at least £41,500 per year or the ‘going-rate’ for the occupation (i.e. the higher amount). The ICT graduate scheme has a lower salary threshold of £23,700. It is important to note that certain allowances can be included in the applicant’s salary, but only if they will be guaranteed through the whole duration of the visa – e.g. as in the case of a London weighting. Bonuses and other financial incentives, which are performance dependant, cannot be included. If you are in any way unsure if your role meets the minimum salary requirements, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to advise you on this matter.
- The applicant must be able to show they have at least £1,270 available to them to cover their first 28-days in the UK) – this requirement can also be met by providing a letter from the sponsoring employer, which confirms they will guarantee to support the applicant in terms of maintenance and accommodation in their first month of employment.
The Home Office will also carry out checks as part of the application process to verify that the employee transfer is genuine, i.e. that the role exists within the UK branch or subsidiary and has not just been created to enable the staff member to come to the UK. As part of this process, they will also check that the occupation code listed in the application has not been exaggerated or is incorrect. Specifically, they will want to ensure that the occupation code used has not been changed to match one of those on the eligible occupations list when it would be incorrect to do so.
When it comes to the graduate ICT visa, the Home Office will want to see evidence that the applicant is part of a genuine graduate training programme “with clearly defined progression towards a managerial or specialist role within the sponsor organisation”. As such, it is important to provide as much evidence as possible to show that the programme has not just been created to allow the transfer of the individual and that this is an established undertaking within your organisation.
The ICT visa is very similar to the Skilled Worker visa in that applicants must be sponsored by a licensed employer in the UK, they must have an eligible role, and their salary must meet a set threshold (albeit this threshold is higher for the ICT visa). As long as you meet the eligibility requirements, and your application is deemed genuine by the Home Office, you will have every chance of receiving a positive decision on your application.