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Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Visas

As a multi-national business, you may be looking to move an employee from a branch of your company outside the UK to work in your UK branch, either for a short or long-term time period. If so, the employee will need to apply for a Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa – also known as an Intra-Company Transfer Visa - either as a graduate trainee or on a Long-Term Staff basis.

You, as the employer, will need to have a sponsorship licence and a Certificate of Sponsorship for each employee in question before they can apply for this visa route. Our Business Immigration Law team can advise you on all your employer requirements and responsibilities and guide you through the process of becoming a Tier 2 Visa sponsor.

Transferring employees to the UK

As an employer, you have various obligations under the Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer) visa application route.

An intra-company transfer is when an employee working for an international organisation and based in non-UK company enters the UK to work at the same company or its subsidiary in the UK. The organisation can assist with the required Tier 2 visa application to the UK Home Office but it is down to individual concerned to apply.

There are two types of Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Work visa:

  • For long-term staff – who have either worked for the company for at least 12 months or who will be paid £73,900 or more a year to work in the UK
  • For graduate trainees – who have at least three months’ experience with the company and transferring onto a graduate trainee programme for specialist roles

The maximum stay under the Tier 2 visa for long-term staff is five or nine years depending on the salary paid. For graduate trainees, it is 12 months.

The Tier 2 visa route is open to multi-national organisations who want to move employees from a branch of the company outside the UK to a branch within the UK. Employees can be transferred to the organisation’s 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. As of May 2020, the job role detailed in the Certificate of Sponsorship will usually need to be Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 6 or above as detailed on the UK Government’s Codes of practice.

If you want to transfer an overseas employee (non-EEA national) to the UK, you must have a Tier 2 visa sponsor licence with specific reference to Intra Company Transfers (ICT).

You have to apply for a sponsor licence to the UK Home Office. The application submitted to the Home Office online and you have to prove your business legitimacy, provide supporting evidence and agree to abide by the Home Office immigration rules. The licence will then need to be managed by your organisation using the Home Office online Sponsorship Management System.

Once you have a sponsor licence, you can then allocate a Certificate of Sponsorship to the employee. There are various restrictions on who can be issued with a Certificate of Sponsorship. The employee will then have to apply for a visa to enter the UK.

Tier 2 visa requirements for your transferring employee’s application include:

  • Being able to show they have worked for you outside the UK
  • Having a valid Certificate of Sponsorship, which you provide, for the job
  • Being paid an ‘appropriate salary’ for the job
  • Having adequate personal savings to support themselves when they arrive in the UK
  • Demonstrating their ability to travel

At Thorntons, we can advise you and your employee on the work visa requirements and support them through the Home Office process.

Your sponsored employee may be able to extend their Tier 2 intra-company transfer visa if they still work in the same or similar role as the one they applied for the visa on, they still work for you in the UK and they earn an ‘appropriate’ salary. They will need to apply online to the Home Office before the end of their current visa.

Long-term staff can apply to extend their visa by the shortest of:

  • The period specified on their Certificate of Sponsorship plus 14 days
  • The time needed to extend the employee’s stay to the maximum period of time permitted in the  visa category
  • Five years (or nine years if they earn over £120,000)

Graduate trainees can apply to extend for a maximum of a year.

The employee cannot apply for settlement in the UK with this type of visa.

How can Thorntons help?

Our specialist business Immigration Law team can advise you, as an employer, on the requirements of allocating a Certificate of Sponsorship (COS) to a potential Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) worker. Our team also has a wealth of experience in advising individuals on applying to enter the UK via the Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) route.

In most immigration situations taking legal advice early on can often resolve a situation quickly, avoid potential problems and save you time and money later.  Our Immigration Solicitors can help you reach the right outcome for your business when dealing with Tier 2 sponsorship, transferring international employees, and immigration and employment law issues.

Call the Thorntons Immigration Law team on 03330 430 350 to find out more about our Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa support for businesses, or complete our enquiry form and we will contact you.