The interim immigration cap has seen the use of Intra-Company Transfers (ICTs) to bring non-EU workers to the UK surge.
During the third quarter of this year the number of ICT visas issued was 8,000 – an increase of 25%. If this rate is maintained it will result in around 32,000 workers entering the UK under the ICT route, compared to around 22,000 for the previous year.
If Tier 1 General is removed, as has been stated by the Government, then even more use of the ICT route is anticipated. As there are no limits on the numbers of migrants that can enter under the ICT route the Government will find it difficult to reduce immigration of skilled workers. Many in the UK believe that the goal of reducing the number of skilled workers coming to the UK is fundamentally flawed and potentially damage to economic recovery in the UK.
Many IT Companies use the ICT route to bring in workers from their overseas office and the ‘allowance’ paid in the UK often avoids attracting income tax or National Insurance contributions, thus allowing these Companies access to cheaper labour than a UK Company that is not able to use the visa and tax loopholes.
Many smaller Companies and other organisations such as the NHS foresee significant difficulties ahead as they do not have access to the ICT route and are therefore unable to compete or attract the best international talent.