On 28 September 2020, the Home Secretary commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to undertake a review of the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) route.

MAC is an independent advisory non-departmental public body which advises the government on migration issues and it reported its findings from the review in October 2021.

The ICT route is used for established workers who are being transferred by an overseas business to do a skilled role in a linked part of that business in the UK. The main advantages of the ICT route over the Skilled Worker route are: a lack of English language requirement, inclusion of certain allowances when assessing if the salary threshold is met and the requirement for workers only to meet the salary threshold for the route when working in the UK.

MAC has made a number of recommendations in its report and, while they have not yet been implemented, the government will take them into account when it comes to review the ICT route.

MAC's recommendations:

We have provided a summary of MAC's main recommendations below:

  • Immigrations Skills Surcharge (ISC): MAC recommended that the ISC should continue to apply to ICT workers. The ISC is currently £364 per year for small or charitable sponsors (per worker) and £1,000 per year for medium-large sponsors (per worker). However, as part of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the UK has committed to exempt EU ICT workers from the ISC by no later than 1 January 2023.
  • Salary: MAC has recommended an increase to the salary threshold for ICT visas from £41,500 to £42,400 (or the going rate, if higher) in order to reflect the current median annual gross wage for occupations at RQF6+. In relation to the Intra-Company Graduate Trainee (ICGT) route, MAC has recommended that the threshold should be set at the same level as a graduate entrant on the Skilled Worker route – reducing it down from £23,000 to £20,480 (or the going rate with a 30% discount applied if higher).
  • Allowances: currently, certain allowances which are paid to ICT workers can be included when assessing if an individual meets the salary requirement (unlike for the Skilled Worker route). This may include, allowances for accommodation or a London weighting. MAC has not suggested any changes in the application of this rule, but has requested more transparency in relation to such, through increased data collection and monitoring.
  • Settlement: MAC has suggested that ICT workers should be afforded the same access to settlement as those on the Skilled Worker route. MAC has therefore suggested that ICT visas become a route to settlement, and that time spend on an ICT visa should count towards settlement if a worker does switch into another route.
  • Subsidiaries: under existing rules, overseas companies can send one person to the UK to set up a subsidiary. MAC has recommended retaining this sole representative route, but limiting it to a period of two years, with no option to extend. MAC also recommended trialling a 'Team Subsidiary route' for 2 years, which would enable up to 5 team workers to enter the UK to establish a subsidiary.
  • Secondments: MAC also recommended the introduction of a secondment route.

For completeness, MAC did not recommend any changes in relation to the following aspects of the route: the length of time individuals must be employed overseas before being eligible for the route (12 months for ICT workers and 3 months for ICGT workers), the threshold for higher earners (£73,900 per annum), the skills requirement (RQF 6+), the English language requirement (or lack thereof) or switching provisions.

We now await the government's response to MAC's recommendations so employers do not need to do anything for the time being but it may be helpful to keep under review when the ICT route is being used.