15 July 2019 #Immigration
The Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) is designed for global companies and finds its equivalent in the immigration rules of various other countries. The route allows the quick transfer of key employees, often to plug an important gap in resources for a limited period.
What are the benefits of the Tier 2 ICT visa?
The Tier 2 ICT visa is a quick and efficient route to transfer employees to the UK from linked entities. Unlike the Tier 2 General visa, it does not require the employer to conduct a Resident Labour Market Test or apply for a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship allocation. In addition, the employee does not need to fulfil the English language requirement.
In practice, all of these requirements for the Tier 2 General visa, add to the time and cost of sponsoring a migrant worker to the UK.
How does this route work in practice?
The first step is to check whether the company has a Tier 2 sponsorship licence. If not, for most companies, Clarkslegal LLP can assist in obtaining a Sponsorship Licence, with some taking just over 3 weeks.
If the company already has a Sponsor licence, then the next step is to check whether the licence is in the correct sub-category (Tier 2 ICT). Out of the nearly 30,000 registered sponsors, only around 8000 have the Tier 2 ICT sub-category, either alongside the Tier 2 General route or on its own.
For companies that have a licence in a different sub-category, adding a Tier 2 ICT licence requires a shortened application process. The Business Immigration Team at Clarkslegal have assisted numerous companies in adding the Tier 2 ICT licence to their licence.
The next step is to check whether the company has enough allocation of the Unrestricted CoS in this category. Provided that there are sufficient allocations left, the company can assign an Unrestricted CoS to the relevant employee, if the eligibility criteria is met. As will all Tier 2 routes, the Tier 2 ICT visa also includes a minimum salary requirement and a minimum period of employment with the overseas entity (see below).
Who is this route for?
The Tier 2 ICT route is primarily for companies who operate globally. This could either be a small company with a base in the UK and a linked company in another country, or a multinational company with hundreds of linked companies abroad.
The link between the UK company can be demonstrated by common ownership, control or through a joint venture. Evidence of this link will be required upon application or at any time during the validity of a sponsor licence.
This route is only for existing employees, and can be used for Graduate Trainees, if they have been employed for at least 3 months, or Long-term Staff (with an existing employment of at least 12 months).
A Tier 2 ICT Graduate Trainee can only be transferred to the UK for a maximum of 12 months whereas those under the Long-term Staff route can be transferred for 5 years (or 9 years if being paid above £120,000)
What are the differences between a Tier 2 ICT and a Tier 2 General visa?
The Tier 2 ICT and Tier 2 General routes are primarily designed for different purposes, but they can both be used to transfer a migrant worker who is already working in a linked entity overseas.
The most obvious and key advantage of a Tier 2 ICT visa is its efficiency (lower cost and lesser time), as discussed above. However, the disadvantage (for the employees) is that the route is temporary and does not lead to settlement. This means that after the maximum period is complete, the employee must leave the UK, and may also be subject to a cooling off period.
The Tier 2 ICT route does not have a maximum yearly cap whereas the Tier 2 General cap is subject to a yearly cap of 20,800 (across all sponsors) which is allocated to employers on a monthly basis.
The Tier 2 General route can be used for existing staff, provided that a compliant Resident Labour Market Staff is undertaken, and no suitable settled workers are found. If this is the case, an internal employee who applies for the UK-based role can be sponsored. Companies must however ensure that they do not pre-select the internal employee and must not offer the role to the internal employee, until the Resident Labour Market Test is complete, and no suitable settled workers are found. If a suitable settled worker is found (even if they are less capable), they should instead be offered the role.