Publication - Consultation paper

Intra-company transfer immigration route - call for evidence: Scottish Government response

Published: 30 Aug 2021
External Affairs Directorate
Part of:
Economy, International, Work and skills

This paper sets out the Scottish Government’s response to the call for evidence by the Migration Advisory Committee's (MAC) call on Intra-Company Transfers. It provides evidence on the use by businesses with a base in Scotland as well as outlining how the route could be made more responsive to the needs of the Scottish economy.

Intra-company transfer immigration route - call for evidence: Scottish Government response
Global Business Mobility Visa

Global Business Mobility Visa

91. In the 2021 Budget speech Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced "reforms to the immigration system [to] help ambitious UK businesses attract the brightest and best international talent" including a commitment to launching a new Global Business Mobility visa by spring 2022 for overseas businesses to establish a presence or transfer staff to the UK[35].

92. The new route will incorporate Intra-Company Transfers, Sole Representatives, contractual service providers and import/export related secondments. Our view is that if the intra-company visa is not retained as a separate route the benefits of the visa outlined in this paper should be incorporated into the new global mobility visa.

93. Stakeholders also have communicated that the new Global Business Mobility visa should expand on the provisions of the Sole Representative category and allow a small team of personnel to move to the UK to establish an office. They would welcome this move as they believe it would make the UK a more competitive place to do business.

94. For example, companies looking to penetrate the UK market need to have a UK entity in order to be able to apply for a Sponsor Licence, with at least one senior person based in the UK who can act as the Authorising Officer. The organisation can chose to employ someone locally, or alternatively the Sole Representative category is a useful solution as it allows a senior level employee of the overseas company to come to the UK to set up operations. Once the UK entity is established any staff of the organisation based outside the UK can transfer to the UK using the Skilled Worker or ICT route.

95. The drawback to the Sole Representative route is that companies are limited to just one person transferring to the UK. Stakeholders in the tech sector in particular have stated that this is problematic the ability to only send a single team member does not allow them to react quickly enough to market fluctuations by the time the sponsor licence is obtained and the necessary visa applications submitted in order to mobilise a team onto a client site.

96. However, feedback from stakeholders is that any new mobility offerings should not be arbitrarily restricted to overseas businesses coming to the UK to fulfil high value contracts as this disregards the contribution and growth potential of SMEs to the UK economy.

97. As at March 2020, there were an estimated 364,310 private sector businesses operating in Scotland[36]. Almost all of these businesses (98.2%) were small (0 to 49 employees); 4,055 (1.1%) were medium-sized (50 to 249 employees) and 2,435 (0.7%) were large (250 or more employees). Small (0 to 49 employees) businesses alone accounted for 98.2% of all private sector businesses, 42.7% of private sector employment and 27.3% of private sector turnover as at March 2020. The 2,435 large (250+ employees) businesses operating in Scotland as at March 2020 accounted for 44.3% of private sector employment and 58.8% of private sector turnover.

98. As SMEs dominate the Scottish economy and account for 99.3% of all private sector businesses, 55.7% of private sector employment and 41.2% of private sector turnover in Scotland, the Scottish Government view is that the criteria on sending organisations such as size of company, value of investment and potential job creation should also broad enough to ensure smaller organisations are eligible for the route. The Global Mobility visa on the whole is a welcome addition to the package of talent attraction routes. However, it should be noted that under the 'points-based system' the main visa routes are for high earners, with almost no route at all for so-called 'low-skilled' workers. Or more accurately workers who do not earn a salary at a level to qualify for a visa. Scotland needs people to contribute at all levels of the economy, in vital, challenging roles in care, construction, food production and elsewhere.

99. It should be noted that 53% of roles in Scotland earn less than £25,000, and up to 90% in the care sector, according to analysis from the Expert Advisory Group on Migration and Population[37]. The continued focused on so called 'highly skilled' workers and the UK Government decision to delay the implementation of the majority of RQF 3-5 roles eligible for the Shortage Occupation List will be disastrous for our economy and society and will risk acute labour shortages. This approach by the UK Government also ignores the wider issue of social value and the contribution that people who have moved to Scotland make to our cultural life and to our communities.