What is a Tier 2 ICT visa?
Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer visa is for employees of an overseas company seconded to a UK location.
The overseas employer should have a branch or an affiliated company in the UK and a Tier 2 sponsorship licence in ICT category. The employee, sponsored under the Tier 2 ICT category will continue employment for the same employer.
Change of employer for Intra-Company Transfer staff is not permitted.
There are two sub-categories for Tier 2 ICT visa: Tier 2 ICT Long Term Staff and Tier 2 Graduate trainee category.
Long Term Staff category is for senior employees who have worked for the company for at least 12 months before their transfer or will be paid at least £73,900 per year once in the UK.
The Graduate Trainee category is for recent graduates with at least three months’ work experience working for the overseas branch who are being transferred to the UK to train for a specialist role.
Minimum salary requirement
Tier 2 ICT Long-term staff must be paid a gross annual salary of at least £41,500, although some senior roles, such as Chief Executive Officer, are subject to a higher minimum threshold.
Graduate trainees must be paid at least £23,000 per annum.
This requirement only applies once the employee has been transferred to the UK. Their salary in the overseas branch does not count.
Maximum permitted stay in Tier 2 ICT categories
For Long-term staff, the maximum permitted stay is five years though employees with a gross annual salary of £120,000 can have their visa extended to up to 9 years.
There is no limit on the length of stay if the initial application under the Tier 2 ICT category was made before 6 April 2011.
Graduate trainees can stay up to 12 months.
Unlike Tier 2 General visa, Tier 2 ICT visa is intended to be temporary and does not lead to settlement after five years. Tier 2 ICT visa holders are expected to leave the UK once the visa expires.
Cooling off period
Similarly to the Tier 2 (General) category, a 12-month cooling-off period normally applies once a Tier 2 ICT visa holder leaves the UK. The exceptions to this rule are where the previous sponsorship was less than three months or where the employee is a “high earner” and will be paid at least £120,000 per annum on their return to the UK as a Tier 2 ICT migrant or £159,600 if returning in the Tier 2 General category.
Is it possible to switch from Tier 2 ICT into the Tier 2 General category?
Switching into the Tier 2 (General) category is not permitted. The application would have to leave the UK and wait 12 months before applying to return in the Tier 2 General category.
An exception to this rule is for those who were sponsored under the ICT category for less than 3 months and for high earners.
Can the overseas branch continue to be pay an employee’s salary overseas even after their transfer to the UK?
An employee can continue to be paid overseas. If they are to be paid in foreign currency, it is very important to check the official exchange rate when assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship to ensure the salary is correct.
Does the 12-month cooling-off period apply to an employee who spent less than 3 months in the UK on a Tier 2 ICT visa?
It is the length of sponsorship, not the length of actual stay in the UK that counts. If the Certificate of Sponsorship was assigned for more than 3 months, the cooling-off period applies, even is the employee left the UK early.