The New Intra-Company Route
The Intra-Company Route (ICT) enables multinational organisations to facilitate temporary moves into the UK for key business personnel through their subsidiary branches. There are two ICT routes: Intra-Company Transfer and Intra-Company Graduate Trainee. The former is for established employees being temporarily transferred by their employer company to do a skilled role in the UK and the latter for those being temporarily transferred by their employer company to a role in the UK as part of a structured graduate training programme. The transferring employee must usually have completed a period of 12 months employment with the overseas branch before transferring to the UK.
What you need to apply
Under this new ICT route, applicants will need to be awarded 60 points in total and these mandatory points are made up of:
- Sponsorship (20 points)
- A job at the appropriate skill level (20 points)
- Salary at required level (20 points)
The applicant will be required to have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job they are planning to do, which must:
- confirm their name, that they are being sponsored, details of the job (including salary and any guaranteed allowances offered by their sponsor), and PAYE details;
- include a start date, stated by the sponsor, which is no more than 3 months after the date of the visa application;
- not have been used in a previous application which was either granted or refused (but can have been used in a previous application which was rejected as invalid, made void or withdrawn);
- not have been withdrawn by the sponsor or cancelled by the Home Office; and
- unless the applicant is a high earner (earning a salary of £73,900), confirm that the applicant has worked outside the UK for the sponsor group for the period of 12 months (for Intra-Company Graduate Trainees the employment must be at least 3 months immediately before the date of application).
In addition to the valid Certificate of Sponsorship, the sponsor must hold a Sponsor Licence and be listed as A-rated on the Home Office’s register, unless the applicant is extending under the Intra-Company routes to continue working for the same sponsor. The sponsor will also be expected to have paid in full any required Immigration Skills Charge.
A job at the appropriate skill level
This route will require the roles to be skilled to RQF 6 (graduate level equivalent). For the Graduate Trainee route, the UK role must be a part of a structured graduate training programme, ‘with clearly defined progression towards a managerial or specialist role within the sponsor organisation’. Sponsors will be restricted to 20 Graduate Trainee certificates of sponsorship (CoS) in each year starting on 6 April.
Salary at required level
The salary for the role being sponsored must be the higher of either:
- the general salary requirement; or
- the going rate for the occupation.
The minimum salary for Intra-Company Transfer route will remain at £41,500 per year or the going rate whichever is higher. The going rates are set out in the SOC list of occupations with their Standard Occupation Codes. The Graduate Trainee route; £23,000 per year and will be 70% of the going rate for the role.
In addition to the points-based requirements, applicants (along with any dependants) will need to complete the specified online application form, pay any fee and immigration health charge, provide any required biometrics, a passport or other travel document to establish their identity and nationality. Students who switch to this route and are in receipt of funding, must obtain consent from their financial sponsor before making an application. Applicants must also be aged 18 or over to apply (this does not apply to dependent children).
Applicants applying in the UK who have not resided here for 12 months will also need to meet the financial requirement (i.e. to show savings of at least £1,270 held for 90 days before their application). Alternatively, an A-rated sponsor can certify that they will maintain and accommodate the applicant up to the end of the first month of their employment up to a maximum amount of £1,270).
The applicant may also need to provide a criminal record certificate and TB test results.
What it replaces
On 1 December 2020, the ICT route will replace Tier 2 ICT route and will introduce some welcome changes. For example, the ICT cooling-off requirement has been removed. Meaning that migrants will no longer be barred from re-entering the UK as an ICT migrant for 12 months after departing. Instead they will be permitted to hold ICT leave for up to five years in any six-year rolling period, or up to nine years in any ten-year period if they are high earners.
In addition, anyone in Tier 2 ICT or ICT can switch into the Skilled Worker route inside the UK without having to leave the UK, wait for 12 months to apply, or fulfil the resident labour market test.
Lastly, the high earner salary threshold will be lowered to £73,900 (from £120,000). Workers with salaries at or above that threshold will be permitted to hold ICT leave for up to nine years in any 10-year rolling period and are exempt from the requirement to have worked for the overseas business for 12 months prior to entering the UK.
The good news for the sponsors is that any existing Tier 2 ICT licences will be converted automatically to an ICT licence, and Tier 2 ICT visa holders can extend in ICT up to the relevant capped period or switch to another visa in the UK. Employers that have held a licence for some time may not have included EU offices or newly opened or acquired entities in the scope of their ICT licence, so should review now if they should be added.
In addition, companies applying for a licence for the first time that are part of an international group structure should apply in ICT too, to give maximum flexibility. Employees of an overseas entity can only qualify for an ICT visa if the overseas office is approved as a linked entity on the licence.
If you have any questions about the contents of this article or if you need any assistance with the Skilled Worker route, please contact [email protected] in the immigration team at FSP.