The government have formally responded to the Intra Company Transfer petition. Their message is that the scheme does not allow cheap migrant workers to be employed in place in UK workers. The petition aimed to highlight the unfair use of the scheme and called for its abolition by the Prime Minister.

The government’s response was as follows:

“Thank you for your e petition about the Intra Company Transfer scheme and non-EEA workers in the IT industry.

In November 2008, the work permit arrangements were replaced by Tier 2 of the Points-Based System. Tier 2 ensures that those who benefit most directly from migration, such as employers, play their part in ensuring the system is not abused. To employ an overseas worker an employer must be licensed by the UK Border Agency to act as a sponsor. Tier 2, like the work permit arrangements it replaces, is demand-led and not based on numerical targets or quotas. Overseas workers are granted permission to fill a specific skilled vacancy for a specific period of time.

Unless certain exemptions apply, employers must advertise their vacancies to UK workers, and demonstrate that they cannot fill the post with a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker, before they can sponsor a migrant under Tier 2. One exception is if the job is a recognised shortage occupation. The independent Migration Advisory Committee recently recommended that certain posts within visual effects and 2D/3D computer animation for film, television or video games should be added to the shortage occupation list. There are no other IT occupations on the list. Another exception is the intra-company transfer (ICT) route, which is designed to enable employees of multinational companies to transfer to skilled posts in this country and to enhance the UK’s competitiveness in attracting inward investment by overseas companies.

Currently, an ICT post requires that the migrant has had a minimum of six months previous experience working for the sponsor and will fill a genuine vacancy in the UK for an established employee that cannot be filled with a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker.

However, on 7 September 2009, following advice from the Migration Advisory Committee, the Home Secretary announced a number of changes to the ICT rules in Tier 2 of the Points Based System. From the spring of 2010 companies will only be able to transfer staff through the ICT route where they employed the individual for at least 12 months, doubling the existing 6 month threshold and the route will no longer lead to permanent residence in the UK. An additional route will be created to allow graduates on global graduate programmes to transfer to the UK for a period of no more than 12 months where they have three months experience of working for the company.

The off-shoring of IT work is not an immigration issue. The immigration arrangements do not prevent employers from outsourcing work to another company or bringing migrant workers into the UK for either short or lengthy periods of time, provided the relevant criteria are met. These are business decisions for employers to determine. Fair access to migrant labour can help to encourage large multinational firms to invest in the UK. In such cases, access to migrant labour encourages growth in the industry to accommodate both UK and migrant workers. UK workers also benefit from working with the most highly skilled workers from around the world and sharing expertise.

We do not allow migrant workers to be used as a source of cheap labour and undercut UK workers. Employers must pay salaries at that are least equal to those paid to resident workers with similar skills, as specified in the UK Border Agency’s guidance for sponsors. Sponsors must confirm the salaries and allowances of all migrants that they sponsor. This is checked when the migrant makes a Tier 2 application and verified through later compliance checks. If the company does not pay the stated salary, they risk losing their sponsor licence.

Migrant workers benefit from international tax agreements in the same way that UK workers benefit when employed overseas. Further information is available on the Directgov website.

We support employers who ensure their workers are accommodated whilst in the UK, but we have set an upper limit of 30 per cent of the gross salary package for this type of allowance. This limits the amount of tax relief they are entitled to, as well as ensuring that the workers are paid an appropriate rate for the skilled job they are employed to do in the UK.”

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