Escape your T2 ICT visa

2021 Brings wonderful news for Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer visa holders.

  • ‘Cooling off’ period abolished
  • Route to ILR
  • Switch in country

Theresa May, then Home Secretary, in 2011 stopped ICT visa holders from changing employers: unless you had a salary of £150,000+, you had to leave the UK and wait 12 months abroad before you could be hired on a Tier 2 (General) visa. Over 10 years later, this has now ended. You are now free to take up a sponsored job with another employer. You can:

EITHER: stay in the UK and switch employers,

OR: Leave the UK and get a new sponsored visa without any ‘cooling off’

The sponsored visa you need is probably a UK Skilled Worker visa (the new name for Tier 2 (General). This gives you a route to Permanent Residence in 5 years. As you already have high level work experience in the UK with your current Sponsor, you should easily exceed the Skilled Worker visa requirements in most areas. The two areas needing attention are:

  • English Language
  • Job Offer

English Language

You didn’t need to prove English Language to get your T2 ICT. You have been working in the UK, so no doubt have the skills, but you also need suitable documentation to prove it. The main two options are as follows:

EITHER: A Degree (UK Bachelors equivalent or higher) taught in English. If the degree was not taught in UK/USA/Canada/Australia/NZ, you will also need an equivalence certificate issued by NARIC

OR:An acceptable English language test, such as IELTS for UK Visas & Immigration.

Job Offer

This is the big one. The eligibility rules in 2021 are more relaxed than they were when you got your ICT, so being suitable for the visa is not the real issue, but the UK Skilled Worker Visa is also an employer-sponsored visa. So you need an employer that has a job for you! You can’t get a company to sponsor you, unless they have a job for you. There are companies that offer to sponsor people in return for cash in a brown envelope, but they are acting illegally and are likely to lose their licence.

There are two types of job offer: Permanent offers (annual salary), and Contract offers (day rate).

Permanent Job Offer

The company making the offer will probably be in one of three categories, and your next steps will be based on the category

  1. Company has a Sponsor Licence & is usedto using it: Great news, it should be plain sailing (if the company does not provide it, you can buy professional help with the individual visa application, if required)
  2. Company has a Sponsor Licence & but seldom uses it: Some companies have a sponsor licence, but seldom use it. Perhaps they got it first to hire a particular senior person, and have rarely used thereafter, so that using it is not a standard part of the HR (or Legal) team’s remit. Don’t worry. Especially with Brexit meaning that EU hires (e.g. French/Germa/Italian) now need sponsorship, companies are going to be sponsoring a lot more people: they need to get up to speed, so you are probably doing them a favour by reintroducing them to their Licence! By all means get professional help for the company, point them to who can help them.
  3. Company does not have a Sponsor Licence: Ok, this can be difficult. The options are
    a) Company refuses to (or can’t) get a licence, in which case, see if the role can be turned into a consulting assignment (see ‘Contract offers’)
    b) Company happy to get a Sponsor Licence: Great, it is probably a good idea for them to get professional help, but is not essential (though identify who is project managing the application, what the deadlines are, etc, and ensure that it does not drag on due to being the ‘orphan child’ project of someone who has a full day job and does not really have time to get everything together: if this looks to be happening, get professional help, e.g. from James Dunlop
    c) Company reluctant to get a Sponsor Licence, or reluctant to pay the cost (whether government fees or professional fees) of getting the licence. This is not unusual, especially with smaller companies. It may be necessary to come to an agreement on costs, but try to make it fair, for example by having any contribution you make subject to rebates each time the licence is used to sponsor someone else.

Contract Job Offer

Companies typically will not sponsor contractors, so your options are as follows:

EITHER: Try to turn it into a permanent job (see above guide). This is your only option if

  • – The role is ‘ongoing / routine’ (eg monthly management accounts preparation, or desktop support)
  • – The role requires the client to set your duties & objectives (typically junior roles where the remit can’t be defined and agreed in advance and instead needs regular managerial input)
  • – The role is at a low rate (Typically anything on under £300/day, however individuals under 26 (i.e. New Entrants) may get away with £250/day)

OR: Easily turn it into an outsourced contract & get employed and sponsored by our partnering Consultancies who will sponsor and employ you and then assigns you to deliver the client contract. For this to work

  • – There must be a consultancy agreement detailing the deliverable service requirements with the client buying deliverable outputs and not simply the supply of an individual i.e. ‘agency worker’.
  • – The services cannot be ‘ongoing’ or ‘routine’
  • – The day rate must be appropriate (Typically >£300/day, but many specialities such as actuaries will have a higher minimum to make them viable)

Our resources for Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT) visa holders looking to escape include: