ICT vs Skilled Worker
21. Unlike the previous Tier 2 (General) category, there is no requirement to conduct a resident labour market test (RLMT) for Skilled Worker applications and the minimum skill and salary thresholds have been reduced. As a result of these improvements to the Skilled Worker route a small number of Scottish stakeholders have stated that they have limited use for ICT at present.
22. ICT visa holders can now switch from within the UK into the Skilled Worker category and then be on a track to indefinite leave to remain after 5 years as a Skilled Worker. There are also routes for dependent partners and children to switch from PBS Dependants to Dependants of Skilled Workers. There is also no longer a specific cooling off period when switching. Previously, the Rules prevented a person re-entering the UK on the Intra-Company Transfer route for 12 months after departing.
23. Under the previous points Based System, 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. The Rules have been amended so that applicants are permitted to hold Intra Company Transfer leave for up to five years in any six-year rolling period or up to nine years in any 10-year period for high earners.
24. Unlike the Skilled Worker category, ICT applicants are allowed to include certain allowances towards the required salary threshold – a benefit of using ICTs. Other than this use of allowances, the fees involved, and the application process, there are very few, if any, disadvantages in switching to the Skilled Worker route. For these reasons, along with the fact that the Skilled Worker category can lead to indefinite leave to remain (ILR) after 5 years, it is likely that the ICT category will become less popular with employers over time compared to the old Tier 2 (ICT) category.
25. However, it is important to remember that the Skilled Worker route is primarily intended to be used for overseas nationals who are filling permanent roles in the UK that arise from skills shortages.
26. The concept of ICTs is found in the WTO's General Agreement on Trade in Services. On the international stage the UK needs to have a workable ICT category and it is hoped that the MAC consultation will assist in updating the criteria to make it more useful for multinational companies. As such, some of the requirements for the Skilled Worker category do not necessarily suit the nature of temporary assignments and the route remains important for employers where 'speed to ground' is crucial to their operations. In addition ICTs still have a purpose in some scenarios, including for example where the employee does not speak English.