Firms ‘abusing’ a visa scheme allowing them to bring foreign workers into UK, report finds

Multinational companies are abusing a scheme which allows them to bring foreign workers into Britain, an official report has found.

The firms are sending lower-skilled employees to the UK under what is supposed to be a programme for the highly-qualified, such as IT workers.

Officials said companies ‘describe the positions inaccurately’ to obtain visas for workers who are brought to the UK under the Home Office’s intra-company transfer scheme, or ICT.

Firms were also found to ‘artificially inflate’ the value of housing provided to employees, to bring their earnings up to the minimum threshold.

Officials said companies ¿describe the positions inaccurately¿ to obtain visas for workers who are brought to the UK under the Home Office¿s intra-company transfer scheme (file photo)

Officials said companies ¿describe the positions inaccurately¿ to obtain visas for workers who are brought to the UK under the Home Office¿s intra-company transfer scheme (file photo)

Officials said companies ‘describe the positions inaccurately’ to obtain visas for workers who are brought to the UK under the Home Office’s intra-company transfer scheme (file photo)

The offenders have become skilled at ‘hiding’ abuses from the Home Office, the report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) went on.

But despite its concerns, the MAC recommended significant expansion of the scheme. It said foreign workers on an ICT should be able to eventually settle here, and ultimately become British citizens, as with other visa routes.

The ICT system enables international businesses to send employees to their UK branch on a temporary basis. Before the pandemic, more than 40,000 workers came here every year under the scheme.

In most cases, the staff must have already worked for their overseas branch for at least 12 months and are supposed to be paid a minimum of £41,500, or an equivalent including allowances such as accommodation. 

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended the Home Office steps up checks to ¿determine whether there is widespread abuse of the rules¿ (file photo)

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended the Home Office steps up checks to ¿determine whether there is widespread abuse of the rules¿ (file photo)

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended the Home Office steps up checks to ‘determine whether there is widespread abuse of the rules’ (file photo)

Unlike other similar migration routes, such as the skilled worker visa, employees on an ICT are not required to speak English.

The report said: ‘It can be difficult to identify when abuses are occurring, as many of those carrying it out are large companies that are experienced at using the route and are able to hide it effectively.’ 

The MAC recommended the Home Office steps up checks to ‘determine whether there is widespread abuse of the rules’, focusing on reported salaries and accommodation allowances.

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