The Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa enables overseas workers to transfer to a branch or subsidiary of their employer in the UK. This is visa is replaced by the new Senior or Specialist Worker visa.
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Note: ICT visa no longer accepts new applicants. It is replaced by Senior or Specialist Worker visa under the Global Business Mobility scheme.
The Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa (previously referred to as the Tier 2 ICT visa) enables existing employees of multi-national businesses to work for a branch or subsidiary in the UK; as such, it is essential to the global mobility of key staff members. Being able to move valuable and skilled personnel from any country to a branch or subsidiary in the UK means that multi-national 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.
Update for Spring 2022
A new "Global Mobility Route" is expected to be launched by the Home Office in Spring 2022, which will combine several business routes including the Intra-company Transfer visa, the Representative of an Overseas Business visa, and the Temporary Worker - International Agreement visa. In the meantime, please see our recent article on the Global Mobility Route.
There are two different types of ICT visa, namely the:
This route is intended for long-term members of staff who have been working with the sending organisation for at least one year (this requirement is waived if the member of staff receives an annual salary of £73,900 or more).
The ICT visa replaces the old Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa.
The ICT graduate ICT visa is for those undertaking a graduate training programme for a management or specialist role. Applicants must have been working with the sending organisation for at least three months.
The ICT Graduate visa replaces the old Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainee visa.
To fulfil the eligibility requirements for an ICT visa or ICT Graduate visa, you must:
All applicants, whether for an ICT visa or ICT Graduate Trainee visa, 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. If the employer is not a sponsor licence holder, they can apply for a licence, however, this can take several weeks and requires the employer to fulfil several requirements. If this is necessary, Reiss Edwards immigration law specialists can help the UK branch or subsidiary acquire a sponsor licence as quickly as possible.
For the standard ICT visa, applicants must have worked with their employer overseas for at least one year. If they earn £73,900 or more, there is no minimum length of employment, however.
For the ICT Graduate Trainee visa, applicants must have worked with their employer overseas for at least three months immediately before applying.
It is important to note that only certain jobs are eligible under the ICT visa scheme. Applicants must have a job on the Home Office’s list of eligible occupations 1.
If you are not sure if your job is eligible for the ICT or ICT Graduate Trainee visa, it is advisable to ask your employer for the standard occupation code (SOC) for your 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).
The ICT visa minimum salary is £41,500 per year or the “going-rate” 2 for your occupation (i.e. the higher amount). The going rate is set by the government and reflects the salary (or hourly rate) they estimate is typically paid within each profession (as such, the going rate varies considerably depending on which profession you are in). The ICT graduate scheme has a lower salary threshold (than the standard ICT visa) of £23,700 or 70% of the job’s “going-rate”.
It is also 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.
Applicants must be able to show they have at least £1,270 available to them to cover their first 28-days in the UK. Where necessary, 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.
For the Graduate Trainee 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 that the employer provides 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.
If 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:
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.
As an ICT visa holder, you can stay in the UK for (whichever is shorter of):
The maximum length of stay on an ICT visa allowed is as follows:
As an example, if you have already held an ICT visa in the UK for 2 years, and have been working in another country for the last year but you now want to return to the UK, you will be able to stay in the UK on an ICT for a further 3 years (this assumes you are paid under £73,900). This is because you can work up to 5 years in a 6 year period on an ICT visa.
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 5 years in any 6-year period. It is essential that you apply to extend your visa before your current permission expires.
To make a successful ICT visa extension application, you will need to prove that all of the following still apply:
Cooling-off periods are designed to prevent applicants from reaching the maximum amount of time they can stay in the UK and then simply applying for a new visa. The cooling-off rules were simplified for 2021, meaning that:
1 GOV.UK: Intra-company visas
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