Changes to Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Visa route

Cooling off period

the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Visa route can be used by an existing employee of a multinational employer who needs to be transferred to their UK branch for training purposes or to fill a specific vacancy that cannot be filled by a settled or EEA worker either on a long term basis or for frequent short visits. This route cannot be used by an employee of an overseas employer that is not linked by common ownership or control to the UK branch.

There are 3 sub-categories of Intra-Company Transfer (ICT):

  • Long Term Staff – if you have been working for your organisation for at least 12 months directly prior to your transfer and are being transferred to a skilled job in the UK to fill a post which cannot be filled by a settled worker. This is for a period of more than 12 calendar months, up to a maximum stay of 5 years. There are more flexible rules for high earners.
  • Short Term Staff – if you have been working for your organisation for at least 12 months directly prior to your transfer and are being transferred for a maximum period of 12 months to a skilled job in the UK to fill a post which cannot be filled by a settled worker. This route closed on 6 April 2017. You can only apply if your Certificate of Sponsorship was assigned on or before 5 April 2017.
  • Graduate Trainee – if you are a recent graduate recruit being transferred to a UK branch of your organisation for the purpose of training. (This route must not be used to fill long-term posts). You must be coming to the UK as part of a structured graduate training programme with clearly defined progression towards a managerial or specialist role within your organisation for a maximum period of 12 months.

Changes & Updates

There have been numerous changes to the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Visa route since the launch of the Points-Based System (PBS) in 2008.

The time spent in any ICT sub-categories has not led to indefinite leave to remain (ILR) for all applicants did not obtain initial Tier 2 (ICT) leave under the Immigration Rules in place before 6 April 2010.

Further restrictions were imposed from 6 April 2011, including what was termed a ‘cooling-off‘ period after which persons who have been in the UK in the category are not allowed to re-apply to return. The length of the period depends on which sub-category they are in and which they are intending to return under.

Please note that no Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) migrant granted entry clearance under the rules in place on or after 6 April 2011 can switch into Tier 2 (General).

The latest major changes followed a full review of Tier 2 by the Migration Advisory Committee published in December 2015, and included closing two sub-categories (Skills Transfer, in relation to any CoS assigned on or after 24 November 2016, and Short Term Staff, in relation to any CoS assigned on or after 6 April 2017), and raising the minimum salary threshold for Long Term Staff applicants to £41,500 from 6 April 2017.

On the same date the Immigration Skills Charge and the extension of the Immigration Health Surcharge to Tier 2 (ICT) migrants were introduced.

Cooling-off periods

Subject to the  exceptions below, where a person has previously switched from any Tier 2 category into another category, they will not be able to apply for leave to remain to switch into Tier 2 (General) until 12 months have elapsed from the date that leave was granted in the non-Tier 2 category.

The cooling off period does not apply in the following cases:

  • the applicant is applying under Tier 2 (ICT) – Long Term Staff and was previously granted under Tier 2 (ICT) – Short Term staff, Graduate Trainee or Skills Transfer, or under the Tier 2 (ICT) Rules in place before 6 April 2011
  • the applicant is applying under Tier 2 (ICT) and the gross annual salary stated on the applicant’s current certificate of sponsorship (CoS) is £120,000 or higher (or £155,300 if their Certificate of Sponsorship was assigned before 6 April 2017)
  • the applicant is applying under Tier 2 (General), Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) or Tier 2 (Sportsperson) and the gross annual salary stated on the applicant’s current certificate of sponsorship (CoS) is £159,600 or higher (or £155,300 if their Certificate of Sponsorship was assigned before 6 April 2017)
  • the applicant was only in the UK as a Tier 2 migrant during the last 12 months for a short period or periods with a CoS which was assigned for 3 months or less, for example where the applicant

– was assigned a CoS of 3 months or less in the preceding 12 month period and had no other Tier 2 leave during that period, the cooling off period will not apply

– has had more than one period of Tier 2 leave in the last 12 months and each CoS was assigned for less than 3 months, even where they may total over 3 months, the cooling off period will not apply If the applicant was assigned a CoS of 6 months in length, but the Home Office was notified by their sponsor that they ceased working in the UK after 2 months, the cooling off period will apply (as the CoS was assigned for more than 3 months)

Where the applicant left the UK before their Tier 2 leave expired, the 12 month period can start earlier than the date their leave expired but only if they can provide evidence of having not been in the UK for a period of 12 months immediately before that date.

The cooling-off period does not apply to the dependants of a Tier 2 ICT migrant. A spouse (partner) of a Tier 2 ICT visa holder may apply for Tier 2 (General) visa upon completion of the resident labour market test and issuance of the restricted certificate of sponsorship (CoS) by a UK-based sponsor (employer).

Acceptable evidence may include, but is not limited to:

  • travel tickets or boarding card stubs, but only if the applicant’s sponsor submitted an SMS report at the time, confirming that their employment in the UK had ended
  • exit or entry stamps in the applicant’s passport which confirms that they were not in the UK
  • a letter from the applicant’s overseas employer confirming the date they started or restarted work overseas, after returning from the UK
  • any other evidence that shows the applicant was not in the UK Page 32 of 124 Published for Home Office staff on 31 October 2017

Where evidence is produced and accepted, the cooling off period must be calculated to start from the earliest date supported by that evidence.