Is the Intra Company Transfer Visa the Solution to the UK Skills Shortage?
With news of UK shops experiencing supply chain shortages and media hype about buying Christmas presents early to be sure of delivery, in this article our immigration solicitors look at whether the intra company transfer visa is the solution to the UK skills shortage.
UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors
The UK skills shortage
To UK business immigration solicitors, it doesn’t seem long since everyone (or almost every person) was debating Brexit and the need to take back control of UK borders and preserve jobs for British citizens. Now, we seem to have come full circle, with the end of free movement for EU nationals and the introduction of the UK points-based immigration system. However, people still aren’t happy due to record numbers of asylum seekers crossing the English channel each day and the supply chain breakdowns leading to shortage of material and food. OK, the situation isn’t dire at the moment, but it is a fact of life that if you want specific building materials or certain food items then you will have to wait. The UK isn’t known for its patience, hence why everyone is asking whether it is realistic to expect job vacancies to be filled because of the UK skills shortage.
In simple terms, you would think that if there are skilled jobs available in the UK the obvious solution would be to ‘skill up’ and to train British citizens to do the jobs where traditionally the UK has used the EU as a source of skilled and unskilled labour or has relied on non-EEA skilled migrant workers. UK employers say it isn’t as straight forward as that as training takes time and ,even after completion of an apprenticeship, a qualified apprentice won't have the years of experience needed or be at the top of their profession.
The other question that HR directors ask is ‘if we are ‘skilling up’ the UK unskilled then who will be available to carry out unskilled work?’ That is a good question as under the UK points-based immigration system there is no lower skilled or non-skilled work visa opportunities save for the very limited seasonal worker temporary work visa.
The intra company transfer visa
Most immigration solicitors and Sponsorship Licence lawyers reluctantly accept that the intra company transfer visa isn’t the answer to the UK skills shortage and recruitment crisis. That’s because, whilst the intra company transfer visa is invaluable for some UK branches and subsidiaries of international businesses, it isn’t a visa that is suitable for a large number of UK business owners.
For an applicant to qualify for an intra company transfer visa they need:
- To be an existing overseas based employee of a UK sponsoring employer who has a Home Office issued sponsor licence to sponsor workers on intra company transfer visas.
- To have been offered a transfer of employment to the UK with the UK branch of the business providing a certificate of sponsorship.
- A job where their certificate of sponsorship relates to employment that is on the shortage occupation list or on the Home Office produced list of jobs with a standard occupation code. If the job isn’t on the list of eligible jobs the intra company transfer visa applicant won't secure a visa.
- To be offered a salary of at least £41,500 gross per year or the going rate for the job, whichever is the higher figure. The government sets the going rate for the job rather than the individual sponsoring employer. The figure is reduced to £23,000 for an intra company graduate trainee visa or seventy per cent of the going rate for the job, whichever is the higher figure.
The intra company transfer visa and existing employees
To qualify for the intra company transfer visa an employee must be an ‘existing employee’ based overseas and the immigration rules further define this to stop everyone from abusing the intra company transfer visa route.
Sponsorship Licence lawyers say that the immigration rules provide for a minimum length of employment depending on the salary offered to the intra company transfer visa applicant.
- If the intra company transfer visa applicant is earning less than £73,900 per year then they need to have been employed by the overseas parent company for at least twelve months before the transfer of employment to the UK under the certificate of sponsorship.
- If the intra company transfer visa applicant is applying under the graduate route then they need to have been employed by the overseas parent company for at least three months before the transfer of employment to the UK under the certificate of sponsorship.
- If the intra company transfer visa applicant is earning more than £73,900 per year then there is no minimum period of overseas employment with the overseas parent company before the intra company transfer visa applicant can transfer their employment to the UK under the certificate of sponsorship.
Switching to an intra company transfer visa
In some situations, if someone is in the UK, it is possible to switch from one visa to the intra company transfer visa . That’s why Sponsorship Licence lawyers always say that it is best that a sponsoring employer and a visa applicant get immigration legal advice rather than assume one employment route is the best one for either the UK branch of the business or the visa applicant looking to work in the UK.
The alternatives to the intra company transfer visa
Whilst Sponsorship Licence lawyers recognise that the intra company transfer visa is a handy visa option for some UK employers with a sponsor licence, it isn’t available for businesses that have no overseas presence. There are alternate options, such as:
- The skilled worker visa.
- The graduate visa.
- The temporary work visa.
- The frontier work permit.
- Visas that enable the visa holder to work in the UK without requiring a sponsoring employer, such as the Hong Kong visa for British national (overseas) applicants or the student visa that allows a student to carry out some limited work whilst in the UK.
- The sole representative visa if the overseas parent company wants to send someone in their employ to the UK to set up a UK branch or subsidiary of the overseas based parent company.
The intra company transfer visa undoubtedly is one business immigration visa option in the armoury to combat the UK skills shortage as Sponsorship Licence lawyers acknowledge that it gives global organisations the opportunity to move existing employees to the UK without some of the complexities of the more often used skilled worker visa route. As it is undoubtedly easier to secure an intra company transfer visa than a skilled worker visa, for the right employee the intra company transfer visashould be high up on the list of visa options to combat the UK skills shortage.
UK Online and London Based Sponsorship Licence lawyers