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Negotiating With Your Current Employer for a Transfer to a UK Branch as an Employee

One of the huge benefits of working for a large multinational is that it is often possible, and in many cases, encouraged, for employees to move to a branch or subsidiary in another country. This not only means that the seconded employee can transfer their knowledge and expertise, but it also means that they can learn and acquire experience from staff in other countries and bring this back to their home office. It also offers a valuable opportunity to see another part of the world which is a real bonus for those who have a desire to live and work in a particular country for a while. The employing business and its employees will also often offer support to those transferring, in terms of work, living, language, day to day administration, and even social opportunities. Indeed, the desire to work in another country is growing, especially for millennials; according to a 2013 study undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the London Business School, and the University of Southern California, researchers discovered that nearly 40% of millennials harboured a desire to work overseas at some point in their career. In this article, we will discuss how you can negotiate a transfer to a branch of your employer in another country and how this can be facilitated from an immigration visa perspective.

Choose the right time

Asking your boss for his or her blessing for a secondment in another country needs to be timed carefully. Ideally, choose a time when you are at the end or close to the end of your current project, especially if you are playing a key role. Actively reassure them that any plans you have would not interfere with your current work. Also, choose a time when they are relaxed and likely to be receptive to your request.

What’s in it for them?

Moving to another country for the short term may work in your bosses favour for several reasons. They may be able to tie in your move to another country to acquire the expertise needed for a new project. For example, if a department in London has just switched to a new IT system or are just about to do this, you can gain experience of doing this before you repeat the project in your home country. You can also assure them that secondment is going to cement your commitment to the company in the long term. Most bosses will understand that it is better to let you transfer within the business than losing you if they refuse your request. And ultimately, in the long run, you will become a more rounded member of staff who can contribute more to the business.

What’s in it for you?

When negotiating your secondment, explain what it means to you. It will help you to develop your career, it will allow you to see another part of the world and experience the culture and lifestyle there, and it will broaden your business and market experience. According to Eliza Scherrer, US Global Mobility Strategy Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, “Employees who have spent time working in other cities, other markets or other countries, it has really helped them in their career progression”. She also explains, “Articulate your interest very early on…You are more likely to rally support from those around you if you can articulate the move as a part of your long term career goals”.

Many businesses already have secondment programmes in place, so by broaching the subject early on in your career, you can help make this part of your long-term plans.

Do I Need A Visa To Transfer To A Branch In Another Country?

Yes, just because you work for a company with a presence in your intended destination does not mean you have the automatic right to work there. You will need to apply for and secure a business transfer visa or the equivalent in your preferred country. The UK, for example, does has the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa, which enables precisely this type of move by employees from other countries to a branch or subsidiary in the UK. The business entity in the UK will need to have a sponsor licence to issue ICT visas, however. Many multi-nationals are well versed in recruiting from overseas, and those with existing secondment programmes will likely already have an ICT sponsor licence. If they don’t have one, they will need to get one before you can secure a visa. To be eligible for an ICT visa, you must:

  • have a valid certificate of sponsorship from your employer
  • have worked for your employer outside the UK – typically one year, however, this requirement is waived if you earn over £73,900.
  • do a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
  • be paid the minimum eligible salary required for your job – at least £41,500.

There is also a graduate version of the ICT visa for those who have been working for their employer for three months or more. The salary requirement is also lower at £23,000. The maximum allowed stay in the UK on an ICT visa is:

  • five 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

For more details on the ICT visa scheme, see the Home Office website.

Final words

Working in another country for your multi-national employer enables you to gain the experience of living abroad without the risk of leaving your job. Indeed, they may even arrange your flights, accommodation, and visa for you. It is also a win-win for you and your employer. They will get to keep you for longer and gain from your cross-cultural working experience. We wish you all the best with your time working in another country.

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