A set of reforms to the Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visa system are edging closer, after the need for change was emphasised in a new report from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
The ICT System has been criticised for being open to abuse from large outsourcing companies, resulting in a percentage of UK contractors being undercut for their work by overseas workers on lower salaries.
Many large outsourcing companies have been found to be ‘in contravention of regulations’ by the MAC – a number of which have been bringing unskilled workers from overseas, rather than the overseas specialists the ICT system was created to try and attract.
There are two types of ICT – conventional and third party contracting schemes. The conventional type sees a worker brought in from abroad to actively work on projects for the same company in the UK, which benefits the economy.
Third party contracting schemes see workers brought in from abroad before immediately being shipped out to third parties. This lowers client IT costs, and nullifies the need to train UK residents thanks to a steady stream of workers from abroad.
The number of ICTs in the UK has jumped from 22,000 in 2009 to 37,000 in 2015 – something the MAC claims to be fuelled by third party contracting schemes.
The MAC has raised concerns with the UK government about ICTs being brought in for non-specialist work, the undercutting of UK residents, and a lack of investment by consultant employers to invest in British human capital.
The MAC has now recommended a minimum pay threshold of £41,500 for ICTs, which has been provisionally accepted by the government. The reforms are still under review by the government, who are currently looking into how allowances will be considered.
If the reforms go through as hoped by the MAC however, then contractors in the UK will benefit.