NEW DELHI, Oct 7: After the United States announced new visa rules to further restrict entry of nonimmigrant Indians and Chinese, Britain has decided to review its Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visas mostly issued to India companies that transfer employees to UK offices for varying periods,
Britain’s home secretary Priti Patel on Wednesday ordered a review of the ICT visas ahead of a new points-based immigration regime that takes effect in January. Official figures show that the ICT visa was mostly issued to Indians, reflecting the growing number of Indian software companies setting up base or servicing clients from a UK base.
According to official sources, 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 almost all of the fall was accounted for by a decrease by 38% (21,227) in grants of ICT visas to 33,971 during the last 12 months till June.
Much of this decline is as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the sources said. Commissioning the review, Patel asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) 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 chairman 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.