Balancing border controls with the need to accommodate international business is one of the key driving forces behind the Tier 2 visa systems in the UK, and providing a pathway for businesses to move staff into the country is vital for the national economy. It’s important that UK businesses are able to relocate employees into roles within the country so that vital jobs can be filled with staff from anywhere in the world - this allows the UK to benefit from its position as a world-leader in many sectors, and acquire skilled workers from overseas.
Permitting multi-national companies to relocate staff to the UK is also beneficial for the economy as a whole, as it provides a method through which these companies can bring staff in to or out of the country, thereby incentivising them to create a base of operations in the UK. This article will cover the general outline of a tier 2 intra-company transfer visa and highlight the salient points associated with it; applicants should be sure to thoroughly read the Government’s own rules and guidelines on the Home Office website before proceeding.
Who is the Intra-Company Transfer visa for?
This form of visa is specifically designed to allow employees of UK businesses to travel to and live in the UK. There are several different types of transfer visa available, and the conditions of each one vary - some require a lengthy period of employment, while others do not. Similarly, there are salary requirements that must be met to qualify for a transfer visa, which will be covered in greater detail later in this article.
- Requires the candidate to be sponsored by a qualifying UK business
- Open to applicants with long or short term job offers
- Most applicants will need to have 12 months experience with their employer, or be a recent graduate
- Long-term staff transfers can last up to 5 years (9 if certain salary requirements are met), but all other visas last for 12 months or less
- Length of visa is equal to the length of employment plus one month, up to the maximum available for the visa type
Types of Intra-Company Transfer
The Tier 2 visa system is designed to cover many different types of staff transfer, and as a result there are several application types to cater for different employee circumstances. This allows businesses to select the most appropriate visa for their employees, and provides options which are suitable in many different situations.
This type of application is open to staff who have worked for their employer for at least 12 months, and who intend to remain within the UK for at least 12 months. This is only available if the role they’ll be filling in the UK cannot be filled by a local worker.
Similar to the above application, this is only open to staff who have been working for their employer for more than a year. This visa is used if the job they’ll be filling in the UK will last for less than 12 months, and cannot be filled by a UK employee.
This visa is designed to allow recent graduates with valuable skills to enter the UK and work, bringing their valuable expertise to the skills marketplace. Applicants for this visa must have been working for their employer for 3 months, and must be a recent graduate.
This innovative visa allows employees to temporarily transfer from one country to another with the specific intention of gaining or passing on skills to their counterparts in the UK. This can be invaluable for companies with highly skilled workers overseas, who can bring them to the UK for several months to teach new staff, or to companies who want to provide on-the-job training in the UK to staff who work overseas. This type of visa has no minimum employment time requirement, but applicants will need to meet the other criteria of the visa.
Certificate of Sponsorship Reference Number
To apply, candidates will need to have a sponsorship reference number from their employer. This reference number will provide details of the type and length of employment, as well as the salary to be paid. Once the reference number is issued it may only be used once, and is only valid for three months.
Applicants for a tier 2 transfer visa must meet certain salary requirements to be granted entry. This is necessary to ensure that employees entering the UK have valuable skills, and is a logical step; workers for low-paying jobs can be easily sourced domestically, so there is no need to bring in overseas employees.
The salary requirements for a tier 2 visa vary depending on the type of visa being sought
- Long Term Staff: £41,500
- Short Term Staff: £30,000
- Graduate Trainee: £23,000
- Skills Transfer: £24,800
These limits are only a guideline for the minimum which an employee should be receiving; if the appropriate rate for the type of work being carried out is higher, then this will be used as the measure of eligibility. For instance if a senior software developer can expect to earn £50,000, employee transfers for roles of this type will need to be paid at least £50,000 as an appropriate level of salary.
There are several other requirements which candidates must fulfil, which are common to Tier 2 visas in general. Applicants won’t need to prove that they can meet the English language requirements, unlike many other visa types, because it’s assumed that as an employee of a UK company they’ll be able to communicate effectively with their colleagues already. However, applicants must hold at least £945 in their bank account to support themselves initially in the UK; this “maintenance requirement” is necessary to ensure that they won’t need to fall back on public funds upon entering the country.
Fees and Timeline
Like other Tier 2 visas, the transfer visa takes around 8 weeks to process and can be applied for up to 3 months in advance of commencing work in the UK. A fee of £454 is payable for short-term applicants, rising to £1,151 for long-term applicants over 3 years. A premium high-speed application service is available, at an additional cost of £500.