Switching From Tier 2 (ICT) To Skilled Worker Route
For migrants in the UK, one of the biggest bugbears of the immigration system is that it is not always possible to switch from one visa to another. Unfortunately, where switching is not allowed, applicants have to leave the UK and apply from outside. While this may be feasible for some, for migrants who have family members with them in the UK, this may be no simple task. For this reason, it is always important to do your homework when deciding on your next steps in the UK, including checking whether you will be able to acquire the immigration permission you need. In this article, we will focus on whether it is possible for a person on an intra-company visa to switch to a Skilled Worker visa from within the UK and the process for doing so.
Can A Person With An ICT Visa Switch To A Skilled Worker Visa Without Leaving The UK?
Yes, ICT visa holders are allowed to switch to a Skilled Worker visa while in the UK. The guidance used by case officers when assessing Skilled Worker visa applications states, “An applicant who is in the UK cannot apply to switch into the Skilled Worker route if they have, or were last granted permission in any of the ways listed in paragraph SW 1.5. Please note switching is now a validity requirement, not an eligibility requirement”. SW.1.5 of the immigration rules appendix for skilled workers confirms that ICT visas are not exempt from switching:
“SW 1.5. An applicant who is applying for permission to stay must be in the UK on the date of application and must not have, or have last been granted, permission:
(a) as a Visitor; or
(b) as a Short-term student; or
(c) as a Parent of a Child Student; or
(d) as a Seasonal Worker; or
(e) as a Domestic Worker in a Private Household; or
(f) outside the Immigration Rules”.
If you are on any of these visa types, you will need to leave the UK to apply for a Skilled Worker visa.
It is important to note, however, that you will need to apply for your Skilled Worker visa in the UK before your current ICT visa expires. You will also need to ensure you are eligible for the Skilled Worker visa in the same way as any other applicant. Because the Skilled Worker visa is points-based, you will need to score at least 70 points. 50 points are awarded for having a job offer from a licensed sponsor (20 points), a job at RQF level 3 skill level (20 points) or higher, and sufficient English language proficiency (10 points). The additional 20 points can be gained depending on your salary if your role is on the shortage occupation list, and if you have a PhD.
How Can I Switch From An ICT Visa To A Skilled Worker Visa?
To switch from an ICT visa to a Skilled Worker visa, you will need to complete the online application form. As part of the application process, you will need to pay an application fee of £704 per person (if you are applying for a visa of up to three years), or £1,408 per person (if applying for a visa of more than three years). If your role is on the shortage occupation list, this application fee is reduced to £464 and £928, respectively.
If you a national of one of the following countries, your application fee will be further reduced by £55: 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 to the application fee, you will also need to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge of £624 per year to enable you to access the UK’s health care system (the National Health System – NHS). You will also need to show as part of your application that you have at least £1,270 in savings to support yourself; this will not be required if you have already been here for 12 months or more. If necessary, your employer can write a letter to state they will cover this support cost on your behalf.
Your identity and biometric information will need to be provided as part of your application to allow the Home Office to create your biometric residence permit. This can be done by having your fingerprints scanned and photograph taken at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point (there is a charge of £19.20 to have your biometric information scanned and processed). You can also use the Home Office's UK Immigration: ID Check’ mobile phone app to provide your identity information. The Home Office will advise which option to use when you apply.
How Long Will It Take To Receive A Decision On My Skilled Worker Application?
It can take up to eight weeks to receive a decision from the Home Office, however, as long as you applied before your current ICT visa expires, you will be able to remain in the UK lawfully. The application process can take longer if there is any missing evidence or information or if you are required to attend an interview.
It is possible to receive a decision faster if time is of the essence by using the priority service or super-priority service. The priority service provides a decision within five working days and costs an extra £500. The super-priority service provides a decision on the next working day for an additional cost of £800.
It is not uncommon for ICT visa holders to come to the UK and find new employment while here. Having the ability to switch from an ICT visa to a Skilled Worker visa without needing to leave the UK has considerable advantages, not least that you will not need to pause your life here while waiting for a decision.