This guide sets out the Tier 2 ICT salary requirements and considerations so that you can avoid an adverse visa decision and gain the points needed to secure the Tier 2 ICT visa.
Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Long Term visa (or Tier 2 ICT visa) allows a multinational company to transfer highly skilled overseas nationals to their branch or office in the United Kingdom (UK), where there is a genuine temporary need.
Under the Immigration Rules, there are a number of requirements to be met. On fundamental, and often confusing criteria, which sometimes lead to the refusal of the Tier 2 ICT visa, is the Tier 2 ICT salary requirements.
In order to secure a Tier 2 ICT visa, the applicant must meet the Tier 2 ICT salary requirements. We have focused on this requirement due to a recent approach from a company and subsequent query on Quora.
To gain sufficient points to secure a Tier 2 ICT visa under the Points Based System of the Immigration Rules, the applicant must have:
- A skilled job offer;
- A certificate of sponsorship from an organisation that is a licensed sponsor in the UK; and
- Evidence that they will receive the appropriate salary.
In relation to the latter, the Immigration Rules specify that the Tier 2 ICT visa applicant must earn a minimum salary of £41,500 per year or the appropriate salary for their job type (whichever is the higher). Tier 2 ICT Graduate Trainee visa holders must earn a minimum salary of £23,000, though our focus here is on the Tier 2 ICT Long Term visa sub-category.
This requirement can cause HR professionals within multinationals and Tier 2 ICT visa applicants much concern. Indeed, applications for a Tier 2 ICT visa can be refused if the salary requirements are not met. For this reason, I always ensure that HR professionals understand the important connection between the role to be offered to the Tier 2 ICT applicant, the hours to be worked in the UK and the salary to be paid.
The annual salary figure is based on 39 hours per week. As a result, a Tier 2 ICT Long Term visa applicant, who has been offered a position in the UK office, and who will receive a salary of £41,500, will earn £20.46 per hour.
That is, 41,500/52 = 798.08
798.08/39 = 20.46
If the applicant were to be offered £41,500 for employment, of say 40 hours per week, the visa applicant will fall short of the minimum salary requirement and their visa application will be refused. Instead, in this example, the applicant would be expected to earn £42,556.80 per annum based on 40 hours per week.
That is, 20.46 x 40 = 818.40
818.40 x 52 = 42,556.80
Where the Tier 2 ICT visa applicant has not worked for the sponsor in their overseas office for at least 12 months, the applicant must be offered an annual salary of at least £73,900.
For completeness, Tier 2 ICT Graduate Trainees need only have been employed by the sponsor in their overseas office for 3 months.
We now have to add the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)code of the Codes of Practice in Appendix J of the Immigration Rules into the mix.
The HR professional must enter the SOC code into the Certificate of Sponsorship, as confirmation that the Tier 2 ICT applicant will be paid at, or above, the appropriate rate of salary for the role as set out in Appendix J of the Immigration Rules.
SOC codes are used by sponsoring employers and UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to assess, not only the correct skill level for the specific employment role, but also the appropriate salary.
So what do we mean when we say that the highly skilled applicant must earn a minimum salary of £41,500 ‘or the appropriate salary for their job type (whichever is the higher)’?
Well, the Tier 2 ICT Long term visa applicant will have to earn the annual salary set out under the appropriate SOC code, if that salary is higher than £41,500 per annum.
Again, salary calculations are based on 39 hours per week.
So, to clarify, if the Tier 2 ICT visa applicant is seeking to transfer to the UK to undertake the role of an experienced Marketing Director, as mapped to SOC code 1132, as listed at Table 2 of the Codes of Practice they will need to earn a minimum annual salary of £49,900. That figure may include certain employment allowances – see below.
If the applicant wishes to enter the UK and work as an experienced Social Services Manager as mapped to SOC code 1184 of the Codes of Practice, they cannot rely on the salary of £29,100, as specified. Rather, the company will have to pay the applicant an annual salary of £41,500.
This may all seem nonsensical, as many of the salaries listed within the Codes of Practice list salaries of less than £41,500. Yet, worth noting that the Codes of Practice apply to Tier 2 (General) visa applicants also, who can earn a minimum salary of £30,000 per annum, unless the appropriate salary for their job type is higher. Therefore, it is feasible for a Tier 2 (General) visa applicant to meet a lower minimum salary threshold in comparison to an applicant applying for a Tier 2 ICT Long Term visa.
New entrant v experience worker
The salary, as mapped to the appropriate SOC code, will need to factor in whether the applicant is a ‘new entrant’ or an ‘experienced’ hire.
If the applicant has worked in a particular role for the company for a lengthy period of time, the applicant will be deemed to be an experienced hire. By entering the salary figure into the Certificate of Sponsorship, the sponsoring employer is undertaking to pay the stated salary to the applicant for the initial period of the Tier 2 ICT visa. That is, 3 years and 1 month.
The applicant is entitled to extend their visa, from within the UK, to a total of 5 years. At the time of the renewal, the applicant must earn the salary rate for an experienced hire or £41,500 (whichever is the higher salary), so as to meet the Tier 2 ICT salary requirements. This is regardless of whether the applicant first earned a lower new entrant salary or not.
It is possible for sponsors to support an application for a 5-year visa. Some companies do so because of the certainty that a longer term visa can provide to both the business and applicant. If, from the very outset, the company wishes to sponsor the applicant for the full 5-year term of the visa, the applicant must be paid at, or above, the appropriate experienced rate of salary for the role, as set out under the SOC code or £41,500, whichever is the higher. This is regardless of whether the applicant would ordinarily be deemed to be a new entrant when first transferring to the UK.
Tier 2 ICT salary requirements allow the applicant’s salary to be made up of:
- Guaranteed gross basic pay; and
- Allowances, up to the limit below, which are guaranteed to be paid for the duration of the applicant’s employment in the UK; and
- will be paid to a local settled worker in similar circumstances, such as London weighting; or
- are paid as a mobility premium or to cover the additional cost of living in the UK.
There are certain allowances that a sponsor may pay, but which cannot be taken into account when calculating the Tier 2 ICT applicant’s appropriate salary levels. They include, but are not limited to:
- One-off payments, such as those linked to the cost of relocation, which will not form part of the Tier 2 ICT applicant’s regular salary package;
- Non-guaranteed payments, such as bonuses or incentive related pay;
- Overtime payments, whether or not overtime is guaranteed;
- Business expenses payment, including (but not limited to) training, international travel, hotels and business travel within the UK;
- Any payments for which the applicant will need to reimburse the sponsor or a linked overseas business;
- Employer pension contributions;
- Medical benefits;
- Tuition fees payments; and
- The value of any shares that the applicant may obtain in exchange for some of their UK employment rights as an employer-owner.
It is not unusual for sponsors to include accommodation allowances as part of the applicant’s salary calculations. Nonetheless, UKVI only consider accommodation allowances of up to a maximum of 30 per cent of the gross salary package.
UKVI have helpfully provided 2 examples in their guidance, which it is worth replicating here:
The sponsor offers:
* Accommodation allowances: £10,000
* Salary and other (non-accommodation) allowances: £35,000
The total salary package the sponsor has offered is:
*£10,000 + £35,000 = £45,000.
The salary and other (non-accommodation) allowances can be a minimum of 70 per cent of the total package you can take into account.
This means that £35,000 is 70 per cent of the maximum package you can take into account.
You calculate this maximum package by dividing £35,000 by 70 per cent (or 0.7):
* £35,000 ÷ 0.7 = £50,000
In this example, the total package the sponsor has offered is less than the maximum package that UKVI can take into account.
In this case UKVI can:
* Take into account the whole package and use the total £45,000 when checking the appropriate rate
As a result, UKVI will award 20 points for meeting the Tier 2 ICT salary requirements.
The sponsor offers:
* Accommodation allowances: £20,000
* Salary and other (non-accommodation) allowances: £24,500
The total salary package the sponsor has offered is: £20,000 + £24,500 = £44,500.
The salary and other (non-accommodation) allowances can be a minimum of 70 per cent of the total package you can take into account (or 0.7):
* £24,500 ÷ 0.7 = £35,000.
In this example the total package the sponsor has offered is more than the maximum package you can take into account.
In this case UKVI can:
*Only take into account £35,000
As a result, UKVI will award no points for meeting the Tier 2 ICT salary requirements because the salary falls below the £41,500 threshold for long term applicants.
For completeness, Tier 2 ICT Graduate Trainees accommodation allowances of up to a maximum of 40 per cent of the gross salary package, instead of 30 per cent for long term staff. This is to reflect the higher cost of short term accommodation.
Tier 2 ICT visas are a helpful tool for allowing companies to transfer highly skilled talent to fill roles in the UK, that cannot be filled by resident workers or by those from within the European Economic Area (EEA). There are strict requirements to be met, including the Tier 2 ICT salary requirements.
Where the Tier 2 ICT salary requirements are not met, UKVI will refuse the application on the basis that the applicant has not gained the necessary points to be awarded a Tier 2 ICT visa.
There are many factors which HR professionals and Tier 2 ICT applicants must take into account when assessing whether the salary requirements are met, such as: whether the role has been mapped to the most suitable SOC codes of the codes of Practice within the Immigration Rules; if the appropriate salary level has been met or exceeded; if the applicant is a ‘new entrant’ or experienced hire’; the hours of work; and length of the term of the visa to be applied for.
The Tier 2 ICT salary requirements are less than straightforward. Yet, taking the above into account, and paying due diligence to the Immigration Rules and UKVI guidance, can help ensure that the Tier 2 ICT visa is issued without distress to the applicant and without further time and cost to the sponsoring company.
Written by Carla Thomas – Managing Director at Thomas Chase immigration.
Thomas Chase Immigration offer immigration assistance to individuals and families.
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