Switching from Tier 2 (ICT) to Skilled Worker Route
Under the new Skilled Worker Route in the new Points Based System, Tier 2 Intra-company Transfer (ICT) / Intra Company Transfer Migrants are able to switch into the Skilled Worker route from within the UK. This was a welcome change to the Rules.
Under the prior Points Based System, Tier 2 (ICT) Migrants were generally unable to switch from inside the country into the Tier 2 (General) category, and were subject to a 12 month cooling off period after leaving the United Kingdom. They were also unable to settle.
Why Switch from Intra Company to Skilled Worker?
The ability to switch into the Skilled Worker route is particularly helpful as Intra-company Transfer Migrants are subject to a maximum stay in the UK (if they entered the category after 6 April 2011):
- 5 years in any 6 year period if you’re paid less than £73,900 a year; and
- 9 years in any 10 year period if you’re paid £73,900 a year or more.
Additionally, Intra-company Migrants are unable to settle in the UK on their route. However, if they switch to the Skilled Worker route, they and their dependents are able to settle, subject to meeting the relevant requirements.
Other than the fees involved in the application process, there are very few, if any, disadvantages in switching to the Skilled Worker route.
Switching from Tier 2 (ICT) to Skilled Worker
A Tier 2 (ICT) / Intra-company Transfer Migrant can switch from inside the UK to the Skilled Worker category.
The only immigration status requirement under the new points based system is as follows:
SW 1.5. An applicant who is applying for permission to stay must be in the UK on the date of application and must not have, or have last been granted, permission:
(a) as a Visitor; or
(b) as a Short-term student; or
(c) as a Parent of a Child Student; or
(d) as a Seasonal Worker; or
(e) as a Domestic Worker in a Private Household; or
(f) outside the Immigration Rules.
This is much wider than the previous requirement in which only the following categories were permitted to switch:
- a Tier 1 Migrant;
- a Tier 2 Migrant;
- a Representative of an Overseas Business;
- a Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) Migrant;
- the partner of a Relevant Points Based System Migrant if the relevant Points Based System Migrant is a Student;
- a Start-up migrant;
- an Innovator; and
- a Global Talent migrant.
Requirements to switch from Tier 2 (ICT) to Skilled Worker
In order to qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa, a Migrant will also need to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration that:
- They are aged 18 or over;
- They have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship for the job they are planning to do;
- Their job offer is a genuine vacancy;
- Their sponsor has paid any required Immigration Skills Charge;
- Their job is at an appropriate skill level;
- They are competent in the English language to at least CEFR Level B1 (equivalent to IELTS 4.0);
- They have enough money to support yourself without relying on public funds;
- They have provided a criminal record certificate, if required; and
- They have provided a valid TB certificate, if required.
Tier 2 (ICT) Migrants seeking to switch into the Skilled Worker route will still need to have a sponsored role that is skilled to the appropriate level and offers the appropriate minimum salary. This can be with their current employer, if their Sponsor has a Skilled Worker licence as well as an Intra-company licence, or it can be with a new employer if they obtain a new offer of employment from a licensed Skilled Worker Sponsor. They will need to be assigned a new CoS for their role as a Skilled Worker.
It should be relatively easy for Intra-company Migrants to switch into the Skilled Worker route, given that they will already be in a role with an occupation code skilled to RQF level 6 (above the new RQF level 3 minimum), and this will have been accepted by the Home Office previously.
Additionally, Tier 2 (ICT) Long-term Staff / Intra Company Migrants must be paid a minimum of £41,500, which is well above the minimum of £25,600 and the going rates for most (but not all) occupation codes for Skilled Workers. Details regarding how to meet the minimum salary can be located in another of our blogs, here.
Migrants cannot fall for the grounds for refusal, and must meet the English language (which they will not have previously had to prove) and maintenance requirements. If they are applying for permission to stay and have been in the UK with permission for 12 months or more at the date of application, they will automatically meet the financial requirement and will not need to show funds. Additionally, for those switching in-country a TB and Criminal Record Certificate is not required.
There are also routes for dependent partners and children to switch from PBS Dependants to Dependants of Skilled Workers.
Length of Grant when switching from Tier 2 (ICT) to Skilled Worker
As with all Skilled Workers, if successful, Tier 2 (ICT) / Intra-company migrants who switch into the Skilled Worker route will be granted permission to stay until 14 days after the end date of their certificate of sponsorship (which may be up to a maximum of 5 years after the start date of their certificate of sponsorship).
Eligibility to Settle as a Skilled Worker
Once in the Skilled Worker route, Skilled Workers (and their dependents) will be on a route settlement. Once they have switched into the Skilled Worker route they must spend a continuous period of 5 years as a Skilled Worker. They cannot combine their time in the UK on the Tier 2 (ICT) route to settle more quickly.
If they have spent 10 years of continuous lawful residence in the United Kingdom, they may be able to instead apply for indefinite leave to remain on the basis of long residence.
They will need to meet the other requirements for settlement, including knowledge of life in the UK, and the sponsorship, salary, validity and suitability requirements.
If Skilled Worker Migrants are unable to meet the requirements to settle, they can continue to extend in the Skilled Worker category, as there is no maximum total stay on this route.
Contact our Immigration Barristers
For expert advice and assistance in relation to an application to switch into the Skilled Worker Visa category please contact our immigration barristers in London on 0203 617 9173 or via the enquiry form below.