Global mobility and business immigration

Gareth Wadley

A question often asked is: “how can employees be transferred from a parent company or a group company overseas to the UK branch for a specific project or period of time?”

The answer often lies within the Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer arrangements for those employers who are registered as Sponsors with the UK Border Agency (UKBA).

What is Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer?

Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer is a category within the Points Based Immigration System which allows multi-national companies to transfer staff to the UK to work on a long-term basis (up to five years usually) or for frequent short-term visits. All roles filled in the UK must be skilled/graduate level roles.

There are four sub-categories which may be of interest to employers:

1/2. Long-term staff/Short-term staff

These sub-categories allow employers to transfer staff to the UK providing:

Short-term employees are able to come to the UK for 12 months initially up to a maximum of two years and long-term employees are able to come to the UK for three years initially up to a maximum of five years in most cases.

3. Graduate trainee

If an employer wishes to transfer recent graduate trainees to the UK for up to 12 months they can do so providing:

No more than five graduates from the overseas employer can be transferred to the UK each financial year under this category.

4. Skills transfer

Finally, if an employer wishes to transfer an employee to the UK to learn or impart specialist skills and knowledge from/to the UK workforce for up to a maximum of six months they can do so providing the employee will be paid a minimum of £24,300 or the UKBA ‘going-rate’.

No minimum service with the overseas employer is required

It is worth noting…

The Intra-Company Transfer route is a great way to utilise an international workforce. However prior to using this route, both employers and employees should always consider what their end goal(s) are and crucially the impact of the mandatory ‘cooling off’ periods applicable to this route (which require a set period of time outside of the UK at the expiry of the visa) before the employee is able to  return to the UK in the Tier 2 category.

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Gareth Wadley

Gareth Wadley


Gareth advises on all employment matters, including: tribunal litigation; employment contracts and bonus arrangements; senior executive appointments and terminations; internal grievances, investigations and disciplinary matters; domestic and international outsourcings; TUPE; and individual and collective redundancy exercises.