Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Visa for Long Term Staff and Graduate Trainees

This guidance relates to the Tier 2 intra-company transfer (ICT) visa 2020 requirements for long-term staff and graduate trainees. The Tier 2 ICT visa is points-based; therefore, an applicant needs to score sixty points for Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), appropriate salary and maintenance funds. There is no requirement for proving the English language. The post also discusses FAQs relating to Tier 2 intra-company transfer (ICT) visa supporting documents checklist, cooling-off period, application fee, processing time etc.

1. Purpose 2. Types 3. Points 4. Certificate of Sponsorship 5. Appropriate Salary 6. Maintenance Funds 7. Supporting Documents 8. Guidance Notes 9. Leave to Remain 10. Cooling-off Period

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1. Purpose

The Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa enables an existing employee of a multinational company to work or get training in its UK branch for a specific vacancy that a settled or EEA worker cannot fill either on a long term basis or for frequent short visits. However, an applicant cannot use the Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa route if they are an employee of an overseas employer, who does not have an ownership or control of the UK branch.

2. Types

Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Visa

The Tier-2 intra-company transfer visa for skill transfer and short-term staff discounted on April 6, 2017. Therefore, at present, there are only 2 sub-categories of Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa viz. Long Term Staff and Graduate Trainee.

  • The Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Visa for Long term staff is for those persons who are working for their organisations for at least 12 months directly before the transfer. And are transferred to a skilled job in the UK for which their employer cannot hire a settled worker in the UK. The maximum duration of the Tier 2 long-term intra-company transfer visa is up to a maximum of 5 years. However, the rules for high earners are flexible.
  • The Tier 2 Graduate Trainee Visa is for recent graduate recruits and the organisation transfers them for training to its UK branch. However, the Tier 2 Graduate Trainee route is not for filling a long-term post. Therefore, a migrant can only come to the UK for a maximum period of 12 months for a structured graduate training programme with a clearly defined progression towards a managerial or specialist role within the organisation.

3. Points

Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Visa Points Requirements

For successfully applying for the Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa, an applicant needs to score sixty points.

  • 30 points for an assigned Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
  • 20 points for the Appropriate Salary
  • 10 points for Maintenance funds

Accordingly, an applicant is likely to get a Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa if they:

  1. have a valid CoS for the job
  2. will be paid an ‘appropriate salary’ for the job in the UK
  3. have personal savings to support the cost of living in the UK
  4. can travel and has a travel history over the last 5 years
  5. have tuberculosis test results if the applicant is from a listed country
  6. can provide evidence of working for the sponsoring employer outside the UK

Furthermore, an applicant needs to apply online for a Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer visa. And needs to attend the appointment at a visa application centre for submitting application and biometrics. In case of a successful outcome, the UKVI will use the biometrics information (i.e. fingerprints and photograph) of the applicant for issuing the biometric residence permit (BRP) to the applicant. Accordingly, an applicant needs to collect the BRP within 10 days of arriving in the UK. Please note applicants from North Korea cannot apply online. And need to download the application form

4. Certificate of Sponsorship – 30 Points

Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Visa Requirements

To score points for sponsorship, an applicant needs to have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a licensed sponsor. In fact, a CoS holds the personal details and information about the job of a Tier 2 ICT visa applicant. The CoS is an electronic record and certainly not a paper document. Accordingly, the sponsoring organisation is responsible to give a Tier 2 ICT visa applicant the sponsorship reference number, which the applicant merely needs to add to the application. Moreover, an applicant can only CoS reference number once- within 3 months after getting it.

Furthermore, the CoS must confirm that the job is at Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 6 as per the codes of practice, or the job is a creative sector occupation skilled to RQF level 4 as listed in Tier 2 & 5 Sponsor Guidance. This does not mean that the applicant needs education of Level 4 or 6. However, it only means that the job is of RQF level 4 or 6. Moreover, the CoS must also confirm that the applicant will get an appropriate salary for the job.

Long Term Staff

In fact, an applicant applying for Tier 2 ICT long-term staff visa will get 30 points for a valid CoS if they have been working for the sponsoring organisation for at least 12 months outside the UK. However, an applicant does not need to meet the requirement if the annual salary in the UK is £73,900 or more. Perhaps, the 12 months period with the sponsoring organisation usually means 12 months immediately before the date of the Tier 2 ICT visa application. However, it can be any 12 month period, providing you have worked continuously and lawfully for your sponsoring organisation ever since the start of the period.

For instance, if an Indian national has worked for the sponsoring company in UAE for 12 months, before working for the company in the UK as a Tier 2 dependant then the Indian national can use the 12 months’ experience in the UK. Moreover, if a Nigerian national has worked for the sponsoring organisation in the USA for 6 months, followed by a period working for the company in the UK, then returned and worked for the company again in the USA for a further 6 months, then can add the two 6 month periods together.

Absences

If an applicant has remained absent from work on maternity, paternity, shared parental, or adoption leave or long term sick leave that lasted for one month or longer during the last 12 months then the Home Office is likely to count any work undertaken in the last 24 months towards the 12-month company experience requirement.

For example, if an applicant has worked for 9 months, took 12 months’ parental leave, and then returned to work for another 3 months before applying then can add together the 2 periods of work, making 12 months in total.

However, this previously mentioned exception applies only for a maximum of 12 months’ maternity, paternity, shared parental, adoption leave or long term sick leave. And certainly, does not apply to other breaks in the working. For instance, a period of study or a career break.

Moreover, the Tier 2 Long Term Staff visa does not allow a sponsor for whom the applicant has worked for at least 12 months (Company A) to supply workers to another organisation (Company B) on a contract basis.

The sponsoring organisation is responsible for the worker

A Tier 2 ICT long term staff visa sponsor can only assign a CoS if the sponsor has the full responsibility for deciding the duties, functions and outcomes or outputs of the job shown on the CoS Checking Service. Therefore, if an applicant is carrying out work for a third party on the sponsor’s behalf, then the sponsor needs to provide a time-bound service contract. Accordingly, this means a service or project which has a specific end date, after which it will end, or the service provided will no longer be operated by the applicant’s sponsor or anyone else. Therefore, the applicant must not be:

  1. an agency worker, hired to a third party to fill a position with them, whether temporary or permanent, regardless of any contract between the sponsor and any employment agency or employment business; or
  2. contracted to undertake an ongoing routine role or to provide an ongoing routine service for the third party regardless of the length of any contract

Graduate Trainee

In fact, a Tier 2 Graduate Trainee may get thirty points if they have been employed by the sponsoring organisation as part of a graduate training programme for at least 3 months, immediately before the date of the application, outside the UK.

Any time that an applicant has spent in the UK as a Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer: Graduate Trainee does not count towards the 12 months experience required for the Long Term Staff.

5. Appropriate Salary – 20 Points

Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Visa Requirements

A migrant on Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Long Term Staff visa can get twenty points for the appropriate salary if they earn £41,500 or the appropriate rate for the job, whichever is the higher. Whereas a Graduate Trainee can get twenty points for the appropriate salary if they earn £23,000 or the appropriate rate for the job, whichever is the higher. However, the applicable salary for Tier 2 ICT visa may be different if the applicant is:

  1. extending the Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer visa
  2. working in the UK for less than a year
  3. getting paid at an hourly rate
  4. working a set number of hours

Moreover, the appropriate rate only applies to the time an applicant is working in the UK. For example, if a migrant on Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa spends part of the time working in the UK and part of the time working for the overseas employer then appropriate salary only relates to the work in the UK.

Prorated yearly earnings

If a migrant will work in the UK for less than 12 months, then gets points for the appropriate salary on pro-rated yearly earnings. For instance, if an applicant will earn £25,000 on a 6-month contract then get points for the equivalent earnings of £50,000 per year.

Earnings for part-time work

If a migrant on Tier 2 ICT visa will work part-time in the UK, then will get points only for the actual earnings. And certainly not for the equivalent full-time earnings.

Allowances

An applicant can add acceptable allowances to the gross salary to work out the points for the appropriate salary. However, if an applicant has exchanged some of the UK employment rights for shares as an employee-owner then cannot count the value of the shares as part of the salary package.

Points for up to a maximum of 48 hours a week

If an applicant will get an hourly wage or contract to work a specific number of hours, then will only get points for up to a maximum of 48 hours a week. Even if the applicant will work for more than 48 hours a week. For instance, if an applicant earns £20 per hour, working 60 hours per week, then needs to compute earnings for a 48 hour week. Accordingly, the appropriate salary will be £49,920 (20x48x52) and certainly not £62,400 (20x60x52).

CoS to specify the salary details

In fact, the applicant needs to ask the sponsor to confirm the salary details on the CoS. An applicant does not need to send any other evidence of the appropriate salary. A migrant may get a salary in the UK or abroad. Therefore, if an applicant will get a salary in a currency other than pounds sterling, then needs to enter the salary amount on the CoS based on the exchange rate published on Oanda on the day the CoS is assigned.

Moreover, the CoS must also confirm that the applicant will get paid at or above the appropriate rate for the job. In fact, Appendix J of the Immigration Rules explains the details of the Tier 2 codes of practice. Accordingly, the job must be paid at or above the appropriate rate.

What is considered a part of the appropriate salary?

In fact, the decision-maker may consider guaranteed gross basic pay (excluding overtime) and guaranteed allowances up to the limit, mobility premium as part of the salary. However, the decision-maker may not consider the following as part of the salary:

  1. one-off payments. For instance, the cost of relocation, which does not form part of the regular salary package
  2. payments which cannot be guaranteed. Such as bonuses or incentive related pay
  3. overtime payments, whether overtime is guaranteed
  4. payments to cover business expenses, including (but not limited to) training, international travel, hotels, and business travel within the UK
  5. any payments for which the applicant will need to reimburse the sponsor or a linked overseas business
  6. employer pension contributions
  7. medical benefits
  8. payment of any tuition fees
  9. the value of any shares which the applicant has obtained in exchange for some of the UK employment rights as an employer-owner

The previously mentioned is not an exhaustive list. And salary packages are usually considered on the base monetary salary.

Accommodation Allowance

If allowances are only for the purpose of accommodation, then in case of a Tier 2 ICT Long Term Staff visa, an applicant can only take allowances up to 30% of the total gross salary package into account. This is regardless of whether such allowances are made available in cash or in kind. Accordingly, this means that the salary and other (non-accommodation allowances) must be at least 70% of the maximum package.

6. Maintenance Funds – 20 Points

Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Visa Requirements

Indeed, the dependant family members can come to the UK with the Tier 2 ICT main applicant. Quite clearly, family members need to have a Tier 2 dependant visa if they are not EEA or Swiss nationals. Please note, in terms of the PBS Tier 2 policy and immigration rules, a Tier 2 ICT dependant family member is a spouse or partner of the main applicant and children under 18 years of age. However, children over 18 can also apply if they are already in the UK on a Tier 2 ICT dependant visa.

Furthermore, each dependant family member applying for a Tier 2 ICT dependant needs to have £630 funds in a regulated financial institution for at least 90 days to support the cost of living in the UK. For instance, a Tier 2 ICT visa applicant needs to have £2,835 if they want to bring their spouse/partner and two children to the UK i.e. £945 to support him/herself plus £630 for the spouse/partner and £1,260 for the 2 children. However, a Tier 2 ICT visa applicant does not need the evidence of savings for him/herself and dependant family member if they have a fully approved A-rated sponsor. And the CoS stating that the sponsor will give each of the dependants at least £630 to cover the costs for a month.

7. Supporting Documents

Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Visa Requirements

An applicant usually needs to furnish the following documents at the UK visa application centre:

  1. Print out of the online Tier 2 ICT visa application form
  2. the CoS reference number
  3. a bank or building society statement or letter that shows the applicant has enough personal savings unless the CoS shows the sponsor can support the applicant
  4. a current passport or travel document with a blank page for the Tier 2 ICT visa vignette
  5. expired passports or travel documents for past immigration and travel history
  6. tuberculosis test results if the applicant is from a listed country

If the UKVI ask for additional information during the assessment process then a Tier 2 ICT visa applicant may need to provide the evidence of working for the sponsor such as:

  • printed pay slips
  • online pay slips supported by a letter from your sponsor signed by a senior staff member
  • bank or building society statements
  • a building society passbook

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8. Guidance Notes

Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Visa Requirements

Application Fees

From March 29, 2019, the UK visa fees for Tier 2 intra-company transfer for Long-Term Staff where a CoS is for a period of three years or less and more than 3 years is £610/- and £1,220/-, respectively. Moreover, the application fee for Tier 2 Graduate Trainee is £482. Please note: citizens of Turkey or Macedonia are eligible for a £55/- discount. And the Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa application fee does not include the immigration healthcare surcharge (IHS). However, the IHS is refundable in case of a refusal.

Processing Time

An applicant can apply for a Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa up to 3 months prior to the start work in the UK. Apparently, the CoS mentions the date on which a migrant can start doing the work in the UK. For instance, if the CoS mentions Feb 2, 2020, as a start date then an applicant can apply for a Tier 2 ICT visa as early as Nov 3, 2019. Moreover, the service standard is to process a majority of Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa applications within 15 working days. However, a fraction of the Tier 2 ICT visa application may take up to 30 working days. Perhaps, the UKVI also offers Tier 2 priority visa service at certain UKVACs to process applications within 1-week.

Genuineness Test

When applying for Tier 2 ICT entry clearance or leave to remain visa application an applicant needs to satisfy that he/she has been sponsored to undertake a genuine role. And the applicant has the appropriate qualification to undertake the role for assigned CoS.

During the assessment process, the decision-maker may request additional information and evidence from both the applicant as well as the sponsor. And can surely refuse the application if the applicant or the sponsor fails to provide the information or evidence. Moreover, an applicant needs to provide the requested documents to the Home Office within 10 business days of the date the request letter.

Interview

At times, UKVI may conduct an interview with the applicant. In fact, the need for an interview may arise due to adverse immigration history, past criminal convictions, documents verifications etc.

Permitted Activities

A migrant can undertake following activities on Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa in the UK:

  1. work for the sponsor in the job described in the CoS
  2. do a second job in the same profession and at the same level as the main job for up to 20 hours per week
  3. do voluntary work
  4. study as long as it does not interfere with the sponsored job
  5. travel abroad and return to the UK
  6. bring family members to the UK

However, a migrant on Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa is not eligible for public funds. And cannot start working in the UK before getting the Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa.

Maximum Duration of Stay

The maximum duration of Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa for long-term staff is usually up to 5 years plus 1 month. However, for migrants earning more than £120,000 a year, the duration of stay is 9 years. Moreover, the maximum duration of stay for Tier 2 Graduate Trainees is 12 months.

When a migrant can start working in the UK?

In fact, a migrant on Tier 2 ICT visa can start working in the UK 14 days prior to the start date of the sponsored job in the UK as detailed on the CoS. For instance, if the job starts on Jan 15, 2020, then a migrant can start working on Tier 2 ICT visa from Jan 1, 2020.

9. Leave to Remain

Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer (ICT) Visa Requirements

A migrant on Tier 2 ICT visa can extend his/her stay in the UK if he/she:

  1. has the same or a similar job to the one for which the migrant received the previous visa
  2. continues to work for the sponsor, who has provided the CoS
  3. continues to earn an ‘appropriate salary’

However, a migrant needs to apply for an extension before the expiry of the current visa. And can include any dependants who are on his/her current visa. Perhaps, also including children who have turned 18 during the stay in the UK.

Duration

A migrant on Tier 2 ICT long-term staff visa can get an extension either for the time given on the CoS plus 14 days or 5 years (9 years if the migrant is earning more than £120,000 a year), whichever is the shortest. Moreover, in the case of Tier 2 Graduate Trainee, if the original grant was for less than 12 months then a Tier 2 Graduate Trainee can get an extension for the remaining period. For instance, if the original grant was for 4 months then a Graduate Trainee can only get an extension only up to 8 months.

Fees

Apparently, a migrant on Tier 2 ICT visa can apply online for leave to remain. Quite clearly, the Home Office fees for Tier 2 ICT visa leave to remain (extension and switching) applications from inside the UK is £704/-and £1,408/-, where a CoS is issued for a period of 3 years or less and more than 3 years, respectively. Furthermore, the Tier 2 Graduate Migrant visa application fee for leave to remain applications is £482. Please note: citizens of Turkey or Macedonia are eligible for a £55/- discount. And the Tier 2 intra-company transfers visa application fee does not include the immigration healthcare surcharge (IHS). However, the IHS is refundable in case of a refusal. Moreover, for leave to remain applications, an applicant also needs to pay £19.20 for biometrics.

Switching

A migrant on a Representative of an Overseas Business visa can switch to a Tier 2 ICT long term staff visa from inside the UK. However, a migrant cannot switch to a Graduate Trainee Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa. Accordingly, if a migrant is already in the UK on a representative of an overseas business visa and is working for the same employer named on his/her previous application then can switch to Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer Long Term Staff visa.

The maximum duration after switching to Tier 2 intra-company transfer long-term staff visa is usually up to 5 years plus 1 month or the duration stated on the CoS, whichever is the shortest. However, for migrants earning more than £120,000 a year, the duration of stay is up to 9 years.

Processing Time

The service standard is to process Tier 2 ICT extension and switching applications within 8 weeks after biometrics. Moreover, applicants can also avail priority and super-priority service for extension and switching applications.

Indeed, the priority visa cost an extra £500/. However, it enables the processing of Tier 2 ICT extension and switching application within 5 working days. Moreover, the charges for the super-priority visa service is £800. Perhaps, the super-priority service enables a decision by the end of the next working day after biometrics. However, if the appointment is on a weekday then super-priority service enables processing a Tier 2 ICT extension and switching application within 2 working days. Please note working days are from Monday to Friday and do not include bank holidays. Additionally, the purchase of priority and super-priority service does not influence a decision. And also does not guarantee that the UKVI will make a decision within the stated service standard. Therefore, both priority and super-priority service for Tier 2 ICT extension and switching applications are only for a straightforward application.

10 Cooling-off Period

Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer Visa Requirements

In fact, a migrant needs to leave the UK once the duration of Tier 2 Intra-company transfer visa ends. And in most instances can only reapply for a Tier 2 ICT visa after 12-months. Accordingly, this break of 12-months is commonly known as Tier 2 ICT cooling-off period.

Graduate Trainees

A graduate trainee on Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa needs to leave the UK after 12-months. And certainly can not re-apply for a further leave to remain as a long-term staff under the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa until 12 months after the last leave as a Tier 2 ICT migrant expired or 12 months after the migrant left the UK, whichever is sooner.

Long-Term Staff

An applicant applying for a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Long Term Staff visa usually gets an entry clearance for up to 5 years. Therefore, a migrant on long-term Tier 2 ICT visa cannot extend the stay beyond 5 years- or 9 years if the migrant is annually earning £120,000 or more.

Exceptions

However, if the organisation offers a Graduate Trainee a job with an annual gross salary of £120,000 or higher then the migrant can apply for leave to remain as Long-Term Staff. Similarly, long-term staff earning more than £120,000 or higher can apply for leave to remain. Moreover, the cooling-off period is also not applicable if the initial CoS was for a period of 3 months or less. And also if a person has had more than one period of Tier 2 leave in the last 12 months and each CoS was assigned for less than 3 months, even where they may total over 3 months, the cooling-off period will not apply. Perhaps, the waiver of the cooling-off period for CoS under than 3 months provides flexibility for businesses looking to transfer key staff for short periods of time.

When does the Tier 2 ICT visa 12-months cooling-off period start?

Perhaps, if an applicant leaves the UK before the expiry of the last period of Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa grant then the 12-month period starts earlier than the expiry date of leave. However, this can only be possible if an applicant provides evidence such as:

  • travel tickets or boarding card stubs. Perhaps, these are only useful if an applicant/sponsor has submitted an SMS report for confirming the end of employment
  • exit or entry stamps in the applicant’s passport
  • a letter from the overseas employer. The letter needs to confirm the date the applicant started working overseas after returning from the UK
  • any other evidence that shows that the applicant was not in the UK

Therefore, if an applicant submits such evidence then the Home Office calculates the cooling-off period to start from the earliest date. Apparently, in all cases where the CoS is longer than 3 months, the cooling-off period is applicable. Certainly, even in cases where a migrant stays in the UK is less than 3 months. For instance, if a migrant on Tier 2 ICT visa has a CoS of 6 months and he/she ceased to work in the UK after 2 months, then the cooling-off period is applicable as the CoS was for more than 3 months.

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