Patel calls for review of UK visa used by Indian companies
Britain’s home secretary Priti Patel has ordered a review of the intra-company transfer (ICT) visas mostly issued to Indian companies that transfer employees to UK offices for varying periods, ahead of a new points-based immigration regime that takes effect in January.
Official figures show that the ICT visa is mostly issued to Indians, reflecting the growing number of Indian software and other companies setting up base or servicing clients from a UK base.
In the year ending June 2020, 48% of Tier 2 visas were granted to Indian professionals.
The ICT visa is part of the Tier 2 visa route. Overall, there was a 20% fall in Tier 2 visas granted, and officials said that almost all of the fall was accounted for by a decrease in grants of ICT visas, which decreased by 38% (21,227) to 33,971 in the year ending June 2020.
Much of this decline is as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, they added.
Commissioning the review, Patel asked the Migration Advisory Committee to advise the Home Office on the salary threshold for entry to the ICT route; what elements, if any, beyond base salary should count towards meeting the salary requirement; whether different arrangements should apply to the very highly paid; what skills threshold for the route should be the conditions of the route, in particular those where it differs from the main Tier 2 route.
She wrote to MAC chair Brian Bell: “It is our intention that the ICT route should sit alongside the new skilled worker route in the new points-based immigration system that we are launching in January and that the terms of the ICT route should, initially, be the same as now.”
The ICT route currently has a different (and higher) salary threshold compared to the main Tier 2 route and different requirements, and the absence of any relating to English language. It also contains a sub-category for graduate trainees.
Indian stakeholders have been urging UK authorities to exclude ICT visa holders from paying the mandatory National Insurance contribution, since they do not stay long enough in the UK to be eligible for state pension. The NI contribution is paid along with income tax.