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11 November 2020
What factors should employers consider when thinking about using the ICT route in 2021?
Scope of MAC's commission regarding ICTs
What has the MAC been asked to consider beyond ICTs?
What will the MAC's approach be for working on this commission?
On 1 October 2020 the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) accepted a commission from the home secretary to review intra-company transfer (ICT) visa arrangements. The MAC has also been asked to consider what provision could be made to allow overseas businesses to send a team rather than one individual to establish a UK branch or, subsidiary or carry out a secondment to work on a high-value goods or services contract. The report is due by the end of October 2021, with a revised route likely becoming available in 2022.
The commission provides further confirmation from the Home Office that initially, the provisions for ICT workers should be broadly unchanged under the new immigration system when it launches on 1 January 2021. This is likely due to a lack of time and resource at the Home Office and a desire for the MAC to reform and launch both routes simultaneously, rather than a view that the current structure of the ICT route remains fit for purpose.
Although the new ICT route will continue to allow businesses with international operations to temporarily transfer existing senior or specialist employees to a group business in the United Kingdom, it will become less attractive than the new Skilled Worker visa for the following reasons:
The ICT route may be the preferred or only option:
The home secretary has asked the MAC to consider:
As part of its consideration, the MAC has been asked to ensure that the commitments made to the Mode 4 provisions of free trade agreements concerning ICTs are fully implemented under the Immigration Rules.
The home secretary has confirmed an intention to expand the provisions for overseas businesses to allow them to:
The MAC has been asked to make recommendations on the eligibility criteria for workers and the sending organisation.
In accepting the commission, MAC Chair Brian Bell noted that as the ICT category is used by a limited number of companies, the MAC's approach to engaging with stakeholders may be slightly different than usual. There will still be a call for evidence (CfE) and a series of engagement events with key stakeholders, due to start in early 2021. Employers with offices in the European Economic Area that have not previously needed to use the UK immigration system may wish to ensure that they respond to the CfE or contact the MAC directly to ask to be included in stakeholder engagement events.
For further information on this topic please contact Andrew Osborne or Tyler Jones at Lewis Silkin by telephone (+44 20 7074 8000) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Lewis Silkin website can be accessed at www.lewissilkin.com.
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