UK immigration could clamp down on Tier 2 intra-company transfer visas

UK employers and the British Chambers of Commerce are urging ministers not to reduce the number of migrant workers allowed into the UK via the intra-company transfer (ICT) route. They say it is vital for companies to be able to access the specialist skills they need.

The UK's Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published a report this week recommending ministers review the rules governing ICTs if they still are aiming to bring immigration down to the tens of thousands a year. The report featured figures that show UK businesses are being allowed to bring in almost 30,000 skilled non-EU workers a year to fill UK jobs under the ICT scheme. The ICT route is exempt from the annual immigration cap and is a popular immigration route for many Indian tech firms.

"Intra-company transfers enable businesses to move their own staff to the UK for a limited period of time to fulfil a particular need, and they underpin a lot of investment in the UK."
Adam Marshall, policy director at the British Chambers of Commerce.

Although the Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa route is exempt from the immigration cap introduced by the UK Government last year, it is subject to conditions such as minimum salary and a limit to the duration of stay. Only visa-holders with salaries of more than £40,000 can stay on a long-term basis, of up to five years. But, also, individuals earning between £24,000 and £40,000 would be allowed to come for a year, allowing companies to rotate one employee after another on an annual basis.

To limit the number of ICTs, the Chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee, Professor Metcalf suggested raising the £40,000 income threshold.

The Migration Advisory Committee's have made the above recommendations despite a study by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research that stated immigrants made a positive contribution to business operations through their "advanced technical knowledge and skills".
It also noted that UK employers are worried that further immigration and visa restrictions would be "bad for business" and could send overseas investors elsewhere.

In order to be eligible for a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa, you must:
  • Have an offer of employment from the employer who must also be a Licensed Sponsor in the UK and have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship from that employer
  • Satisfy the Maintenance Requirement for yourself and each of your dependents.
  • Satisfy the English Language Requirement if applying to extend leave beyond 3 years
  • Gain 60 points or more in a Points Test which takes into account the above factors and other factors such as academic qualifications and prospective earnings.
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