On 1 December 2020 the New Points Based System was introduced, allowing those who are currently on a Tier 2 (ICT) visa to switch from within the UK to the Skilled Worker route (formally known as Tier 2 (General)).
Prior to 1 December 2020, ICT migrants were unable to switch from within the UK into the Tier 2 (General) category and were also subject to a 12-month cooling-off period, which meant that they were prevented from making any new applications under the Tier 2 route within 12 months of last departing the UK as an ICT migrant.
What is the Intra-Company Transfer route?
The ICT category allows employees of multi-national organisations who are employed overseas to be transferred to their employer’s UK branch or linked entity for a period of work or training. There are currently two subcategories under the ICT route:
- The Intra-Company Transfer route is for established workers who are being transferred by the business they work for to do a skilled role in the UK;
- The Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route is for workers who are being transferred by the business they work for to undertake a role in the UK as part of a structured graduate training programme.
The Intra-Company Transfer route replaces the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Long-term Staff route and the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee route replaces the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainee route. Existing Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) workers can apply for extensions under the new Intra-Company routes.
As with the previous Tier 2 (ICT) categories, the new Intra-Company Transfer categories do not provide a route to settlement in the UK (i.e. ICT visa holders do not qualify for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years’ residence in the UK, unlike those granted leave under the Skilled Worker category). Permission in these routes will not count towards the qualifying period of stay required to settle, should an applicant later apply to settle under another route.
How long can I remain in the Intra-Company Transfer route?
If you are making an application to enter on the ICT route, you can be granted leave for up to a maximum of 5 years.
You will be able to extend your stay in the UK up to a maximum period of:
- 5 years in any 6-year period if you are paid less than £73,900 per year; or
- 9 years in any 10-year period if you are paid £73,900 or more per year.
What is the Skilled Worker route?
The Skilled Worker category is for those who have been offered an eligible skilled job in the UK from an approved sponsor in the UK. The individual is not required to have worked for an overseas entity (if any).
This route can lead to settlement after 5 years’ continuous residence in the UK, unlike the ICT route.
Is there a cooling-off period and how long can I remain in the Skilled Worker route?
Under the new Immigration Rules, applications under the Skilled Worker route will no longer be subject to a cooling-off period. This means that a Skilled Worker application can be made regardless of whether the applicant had currently or recently held leave in the UK as a Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (ICT) migrant.
If you are applying under the Skilled Worker route, you can be granted leave for up to a maximum of 5 years. Under the current rules, there is no restriction on the length of stay and you can therefore continue to apply to extend your leave under this route.
Eligibility criteria for the ICT route and Skilled Worker route
There are certain eligibility criteria that must be met to enable you to be sponsored as either an ICT migrant or a Skilled Worker migrant, including the following:
- Appropriate skill level requirement;
- Genuine Vacancy requirement;
- Salary threshold requirement;
- English language requirement (Skilled Worker route only); and
- Maintenance requirement.
Please contact us if you require further information on the above criteria.
Alternatively, if you are an employer and you do not currently have a sponsor licence, but you intend to employ someone within either of the above categories, you may be interested in our blog on obtaining a sponsor licence for your company: https://www.gherson.com/blog/sponsoring-migrants-post-brexit.
Gherson has a wealth of experience in dealing with UK visa and immigration matters. If you have any specific questions or queries in respect of your particular circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.