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Moving to the UK from Canada: When Your Company Relocates You to the United Kingdom

In our highly interconnected and mobile world, it is commonplace for workers to move from one country to another, either to start work with a new sponsoring business or an existing employer. Employee transfers are especially common where countries have similar business practices, laws, standards; this is especially the case for Canada and the UK. According to the UK’s Department for International Trade (DIT), “Canada has a close trade relationship with the UK. Our ties are built on a long and proud history of working together. We are the only two countries to be members of the G7, the G20, the Commonwealth, Five Eyes and NATO”. There are many Canadian businesses with interests in the UK, including aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, global media company, Thomson Reuters, and Restaurant Brands International. In this article, we will explain how an employee of a Canadian business with a branch or subsidiary in the UK can work here on an Intra-company transfer (ICT) visa.

What is the UK Intra-company transfer visa?

The ICT visa enables employees of overseas businesses with a subsidiary or branch in the UK to transfer here to work. There are two types of ICT visa, as follows:

Intra-company Transfer visa

This visa enables established staff members (i.e. for those who been working with their employer for a year or more) to transfer to the UK. The scheme is typically utilised by senior or highly experienced individuals.

ICT visas are typically granted for a period of five years and can be further extended if needed, but there is a maximum number of years you can stay, as follows:

  • Nine years in any six-year period if you’re paid less than £73,900 a year
  • Nine years in any ten year period if you’re paid £73,900 a year or more

Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa

The graduate version of the visa was put in place to allow overseas staff on lower salaries and with entry-level experience (applicants only need to have been with their employer for three months or more immediately prior to applying) who are on a graduate training programmes to transfer to the UK. The scheme is specifically intended for those on programmes for the development of prospective managers and specialist roles.

What does the UK Intra-company transfer visa allow?

If your ICT visa application is successful, you will be able to come to the UK and:

  • work for your sponsor in the job described in your certificate of sponsorship
  • study at a UK university
  • bring your partner and children with you as your dependants
  • undertake a second job for up to 20 hours a week that’s either in the same profession and at the same level as your main job or on the Skilled Worker shortage occupation list
  • carry out voluntary work
  • travel abroad and return to the UK

It is also important to understand the restrictions which apply under the ICT visa. Crucially, ICT visa holders are not able to apply for permanent residency (also referred to as indefinite leave to remain) after a qualifying period in the UK. If you wish to remain in the UK indefinitely and potentially acquire citizenship, you will need to switch to another visa type, such as the Skilled Worker visa. With a Skilled Worker visa, you will be able to apply for ILR after five years. Other alternatives may include applying for a start-up or investor visa (the latter can lead to ILR after three years, depending on how much you invest). With an ICT visa, as is common with most visas, you will not be able to apply for benefits, and you will be unable to change jobs without applying for a new visa.

What are the eligibility criteria for an ICT visa?

To make a successful ICT visa application, you will need to satisfy the Home Office of the following:

  • you are an existing employee of an organisation that’s been approved by the Home Office as a sponsor
  • have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK
  • do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations – these can be found on the Home Office website.
  • be paid at least £41,500 for an Intra-company Transfer visa (or the going rate for the role).
  • be paid at least £23,000 for an Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa (or 70% of the ‘going rate’ for the role).

It is important to note here that your employer must be a registered sponsor of overseas staff (i.e. they must hold a sponsor licence). Large organisations with interests in Canada and the UK, especially those who regularly transfer staff between localities, will likely already have a licence. If they do not have a licence, they will need to apply for a sponsor licence before you can transfer using an ICT visa.

Applying for an ICT visa

You can apply for your ICT visa or Intra-company graduate visa from Canada by accessing the online application form on the UK’s Home Office website. You will need to pay an application fee of between £610 and £1,408 (this depends on the type of visa and the duration) and pay the immigration healthcare surcharge of £624 per year). You will also need to provide your biometrics and proof of your identity, either by using the Home Office’s mobile phone app or by arranging an appointment at a visa application centre in Canada. Applications take around three weeks to process.

Summing up

Being able to transfer with your Canadian employer to the UK using the ICT visa scheme offers an exciting opportunity to live and work in a new country, explore new places, and enjoy the British culture. If you are planning to apply for an ICT or Intra-company graduate trainee visa in 2021 or beyond, we wish you the very best with your application and time in the UK.

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