Skilled Workers: What Are The ICT Categories And How Do I Apply?
Intra-company transfer (ICT) visas enable the mobility of international workforces. Being able to move valuable and skilled personnel from any country to a branch or subsidiary in the UK means that multinational organisations can concentrate their expertise where they are most needed. This can be extremely valuable, for example, when rolling out new products worldwide, setting up new branch offices, training staff, or carrying out projects of strategic importance. Having the ability to relocate staff internationally is even more important in the context of Brexit, as it is no longer possible for EU personnel to move to a UK branch office under freedom of movement regulations, hence a business visa is required. In this article, we will explain the different Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) categories in the UK and how to apply for a visa.
What Are The Two Types Of ICT Visa?
There are two distinctly different types of ICT visa, namely the Intra-Company Transfer visa, and the Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa. The latter being for those undertaking a graduate training programme for a management or specialist role. The standard ICT visa replaces the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Long-term Staff visa, and the graduate variant replaces the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainee visa.
What Are The Eligibility Requirements For Each ICT Visa Type?
The eligibility rules vary depending on which ICT visa is being applied for, as follows:
Intra-company Transfer visa
In order to apply for a standard (i.e. non-graduate) ICT visa, you must have been with your employer overseas for at least a period of one year (this rule does not apply, however, if you are going to be paid at least £73,900 a year for your role in the UK). The minimum salary requirement for an Intra-company Transfer visa is currently set at £41,500 (or the ‘going rate’ for your occupation – whichever is higher). The list of ‘going rates’ can be found on the UK Home Office website.
Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa
The immigration rules state that to acquire an Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa, graduates must have been working with their employer overseas for at least three months in the period immediately before applying. The minimum salary requirement for the Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa is currently set as £23,000.
Beyond the above requirements, there are a set of eligibility requirements which apply to both ICT visa types. To meet the criteria for either visa, you must:
- be an existing employee of an organisation 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
- have a role on the list of eligible occupations
- have at least £1,270 in your bank account to show you can support yourself when you arrive in the UK.
How Long Can I Stay In The UK On An ICT Visa?
ICT visa holders can stay in the UK for (whichever is shorter of):
- the time granted on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days
- five years (this is 12 months for the graduate ICT visa)
- the length of time that takes you to the maximum total stay allowed
Under this scheme, the maximum stay allowed is as follows:
- 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
It is possible to further extend the standard ICT visa or apply for another one up to the maximum total stay. Unfortunately, it is not possible to extend the graduate ICT visa within the UK, but you can apply for a new visa from outside the country. The maximum total stay for a graduate ICT visa holder is five years in any six-year period.
How Do I Apply For An ICT Visa?
If you are applying for a new ICT visa (i.e. you are not extending an existing visa), you will need to do so from outside of the UK. The online application form can be found on the UK Home Office website. As part of the application, you will be asked to provide a number of documents to prove your eligibility, including:
- your certificate of sponsorship reference number – provided by your employer
- a valid passport or other document showing your identity and nationality
- your job title and annual salary
- your job’s occupation code
- the name of your employer and their sponsor licence number - this will be on your certificate of sponsorship
- evidence that you have enough personal savings to support yourself in the UK, for example, bank statements (unless your certificate of sponsorship shows your employer can support you)
- proof of your relationship with your partner or children if they’re applying with you
- your tuberculosis test results if you’re from a listed country
You will need to provide additional information relating to your training programme if applying for an Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa. The Home Office guidance says that you may be asked for further information once you have applied, including evidence of your length of current employment (to ensure you meet the one year or three-month employment requirements outlined above). You may need to provide printed payslips, online payslips supported by a letter from your sponsor signed by a senior staff member, and/or bank or building society statements to show how much you have been paid and over which period.
The application fee for the ICT visa is currently set at:
- £610 – for up to three years
- £1,220 – for more than three years
For the ICT graduate trainee visa, the fee is £482.
The fee is reduced by £55 if you are from one of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.
In addition, applicants will need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge (currently £624 per year).
The application process for the ICT visa is relatively straightforward, and you can expect to receive a decision within only three weeks if you are outside of the UK. If you need any assistance with your application, speak to an immigration Solicitor who will be able to guide you through the process.