The number of highly-skilled overseas workers and senior executives being relocated to the UK by multinational corporations has held steady since Brexit, says the international law firm Pinsent Masons.
There was a 3% rise in the number of Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) visas, which allow companies to transfer skilled non-EEA workers to the UK, granted in the six months after the Brexit vote, to 6,650* up from 6,446 the year before.
Pinsent Masons says ICT visas are regularly used by large financial, professional services, advanced manufacturing and technology firms.
Pinsent Masons says these figures come despite the threat that several major companies have plans to relocate headquarter functions away from the UK post-Brexit. At present, the trend in visa data suggests that although the UK’s position in Europe remains uncertain, many international businesses are maintaining or topping up their senior executive levels in the country.
Pinsent Masons says overseas workers are important to the running of international businesses in the UK because they fill highly specific gaps in skills and knowledge that British staff could not provide.
These figures follow recent announcements from Amazon, Apple and Expedia that they are expanding their current UK operations.
Joanne Hennessy, an expert in corporate immigration and Senior Associate at Pinsent Masons, says:
“The fact that businesses are maintaining the inflow of skilled overseas workers during a period of considerable political uncertainty is a real vote of confidence in the British economy and should offer reassurance.
“In many cases, skilled overseas workers are crucial to the smooth running of international businesses in the UK. The steady number of ICT visas granted is a promising sign that many businesses intend to maintain their UK operations for the time being.
“Skilled overseas workers are not only key in ensuring that businesses remain competitive abroad but also encourage skills transfer through interaction with domestic workers.
“In the midst of an unstable political climate, it is important that the contributions of skilled overseas workers are not overlooked. It is vital the Government keeps the door open.
“It will be interesting to keep track of ICT visa applications moving forward, especially as Brexit negotiations get under way in the next few months.”
*Home Office 2017, ICT visas (long-term, main applications)