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UK Intra-company Transfer Visa (ICT)

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.

What is the intra-company transfer visa (ICT)?

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.

Types of Intra-company visas

There are two different types of ICT visa, namely the:

Intra-company transfer visa

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.

Intra-company graduate trainee 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.

Intra-company transfer visa (ICT) requirements

To fulfil the eligibility requirements for an ICT visa or ICT Graduate visa, you must:

  • Have a Certificate of Sponsorship from your employer
  • Have worked for your employer outside the UK for at least one year (or at least three months for the ICT Graduate visa)
  • Have evidence of progression towards a managerial or specialist role (for the ICT Graduate visa only)
  • Have a job that’s on the list of eligible occupations
  • Be paid the minimum eligible salary required for your job
  • Have sufficient funds to support yourself for your first month in the UK

1. Certificate of sponsorship and sponsor licence

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.

2. Minimum period of employment

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.

3. Eligible occupations

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).

4. Salary requirements

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.

5. Support funds

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.

6. Employer requirements

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.

7. Career progression (for the ICT graduate visa only)

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.

Documents required for ICT visa application

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:

  • 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
  • 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.

How long can you stay in the UK with an ICT visa?

As an ICT visa holder, you can stay in the UK for (whichever is shorter of):

  • The amount of time on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days
  • 5 years (12 months for the graduate ICT visa)
  • The amount of time remaining until you reach the maximum stay (this is set out below)

The maximum length of stay on an ICT visa allowed is as follows:

  • 5 years in any 6-year period if you receive a salary of less than £73,900 a year
  • 9 years in any 10-year period if you receive a salary of £73,900 a year or more

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.

ICT visa extension

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:

  • You are still employed by the same organisation as when you originally applied for your current ICT visa
  • You are still in the same eligible job as when you originally applied for your current ICT visa
  • Your job still has the same eligible industry SOC code as when you originally applied for your current ICT visa

ICT visa cooling-off period

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:

  • ICT visa holders can now apply for a Skilled Worker visa if they meet the eligibility criteria for that visa type.
  • The 12 month cooling off period only applies when the five or nine-year maximum period is reached – this makes it easier to have several short term assignments in the UK under this visa without being impacted by the cooling period.




References:

1 GOV.UK: Intra-company visas

2 GOV.UK: Intra-company visas: going rates for eligible occupations


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