Intra-company transfer visa call for evidence issued by MAC

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The so-called independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which makes recommendations to the government on UK immigration, has issued a call for evidence seeking the views of stakeholders on the operation and effectiveness of the intra-company transfer (ICT) immigration route. The deadline for replies is 15 June 2021.

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The call for evidence also seeks views on the potential expansion of UK immigration options for overseas businesses looking to establish a presence in Britain. The MAC is due to report back to the government regarding the ICT immigration route in October 2021.

The current ICT program replaced the Tier 2 intra-company transfer route in December 2020. The main alternative to the ICT route is the skilled worker visa program.?

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Existing employee transfers

The ICT route enables UK firms to transfer existing senior employees and specialist personnel who have been employed by a group business overseas for at least 12 months. Higher salary earners, meaning those earning £73,900 or more, do not need to meet the 12-month employment requirement.

Meanwhile, the intra-company graduate trainee route is available to transfer up to 20 graduate trainees to the UK each financial year as part of a structured graduate training program. However, graduate trainees must have been employed by a group business overseas for a minimum of three months.

Salary thresholds and skill requirements for the ICT route are higher than those of the skilled worker visa route, and the benefits of using it are restricted to certain situations.

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MAC instructions

It’s understood that the MAC has been instructed to advise the government on:

  • Salary thresholds for entry to the ICT route

  • The elements, beyond base salary, that should contribute towards meeting the salary requirements

  • Whether different arrangements should continue to apply for high salary earners

  • The required skills for the ICT route

  • The conditions of the route, especially those that differ from the skilled worker route.

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Expanding UK immigration options for overseas firms

In addition to reviewing the ICT route, the MAC has been instructed to gather evidence on an expansion of the government’s mobility offering that would allow overseas firms to send a small team to the UK to set up a branch, subsidiary or office in Britain.

Under current rules, employers are only permitted to send one person under the representative of an overseas business immigration route.

The government is also looking to expand its mobility offering to include a route that would allow overseas firms to send a team to the UK in connection with a high-value contract for the provision of products or services.

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The MAC is reportedly considering:

  • The criteria for the eligibility of workers, such as skill and salary threshold

  • The criteria for eligible organisations, such as company size, the value of a contract or potential job creation

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MAC evidence requested?

In its call for evidence, the MAC is looking for stakeholders to:

  • Give reasons for using (or not using) the ICT route in the past five years

  • Provide feedback on the ease of use of the current ICT routes

  • Provide feedback on the current salary thresholds for the ICT routes

  • Identify which allowances should be counted to meet salary thresholds on the ICT routes

  • Determine which skill threshold should apply to the ICT routes

  • Identify whether there should be reforms to the arrangements for ICT migrants to work for third-party clients

  • Determine whether there should be reforms to the length of time that an applicant must have worked for the business abroad (and related exemptions)

  • Identify whether there should be reforms to the maximum amount of time that a person can stay in the United Kingdom under the ICT route

  • Determine which differences should exist for graduate trainees compared with the main ICT route

  • Look at whether the absence of an English-language requirement for the ICT routes should be retained

  • Determine which alternatives businesses would pursue if the ICT routes were unavailable

  • Identify whether the introduction of the skilled worker route makes the ICT route more or less attractive than before

  • Assess the potential consequences of allowing businesses setting up in the United Kingdom to send a small team to do this, rather than only one individual

  • Detail any experience that employers have of sending a small team to set up a business in any country

  • Report on perceptions of allowing workers from an overseas business with no UK presence to be seconded to the United Kingdom to work on high-value contracts

  • Outline any other changes that they would like to see made to the ICT route

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