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Skilled Worker Visa Costs (Sponsor’s Guide)

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For any organisation sponsoring an individual, it will be important to understand the skilled worker visa costs that you will need to budget for. There are a number of fees that will be payable, both when hiring the skilled worker and on an ongoing basis.

This article identifies the charges and fees that an employer can expect to pay when sponsoring workers on a skilled worker (formerly Tier 2) visa.

 

Skilled worker visa costs: sponsorship licence application fee

As of 1 January 2021, all UK employers are required to hold a sponsor licence to hire non-UK resident workers. For employers, these changes are impacting recruitment processes and raising new and substantial costs since many organisations now need to hold a licence to employ EU as well as non-EU skilled workers. These costs will need to be factored into future recruitment and employment budgets.

The Home Office operates a tiered fee system for sponsorship licence applications.

Small businesses & charities

If the organisation comes within the Companies Act definition of a small business, or is a charity, they will pay the small company application fee, which is £536.

The Companies Act states an organisation will be deemed a small company if two of the following apply:

  • The company must have a turnover of no more than £10.2 million.
  • The company must have a balance sheet total of no more than £5.1 million.
  • There must be no more than 50 employees.

 

Large businesses

Companies that do not fall within the definition will be charged the large business fee of £1,476.

 

Skilled worker visa costs of sponsorship

The full list of Home Office sponsor licence application fees are as follows:

Premium Sponsor Service (12 months) Worker sponsor and Temporary worker sponsor – large sponsors £25,000
Premium Sponsor Service (12 months) Worker sponsor and Temporary worker sponsor – small sponsors £8,000
Premium Sponsor Service (12 months) Student sponsors £8,000
The expedited processing of a sponsorship management request made by a Worker sponsor or Temporary worker sponsor £200
Priority service for expedited processing of sponsor licence applications £500
Skilled Worker sponsor licence and Temporary Worker sponsor licence – large sponsor £1,476
Skilled Worker sponsor licence (small sponsor) £536
Student sponsor licence £536
Temporary Worker sponsor licence £536
Worker sponsor licence (large sponsor), (where sponsor currently holds a Temporary Worker and/or Student Sponsor Licence) £940

 

Certificate of Sponsorship cost 

In addition to the licence application, sponsors will also have to pay to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to each sponsored worker.

The Certificate of Sponsorship is a mandatory requirement for skilled worker visa applicants to make their visa application.

The cost of assigning each Certificate of Sponsorship is £199. This cost will apply each time you recruit a sponsored worker.

 

Immigration Skills Charge

Also payable by the employer when the Certificate of Sponsorship is issued is the Immigration Skills Charge.

This is a levy on all sponsors, payable on an annual basis for each sponsored worker.

The Immigration Skills Charge is £1,000 per year per migrant worker sponsored under the skilled visa.

A reduced rate of £364 per annum applies to small businesses and charities.

The fee must be paid by the sponsor, and not the worker.

There are limited exemptions for PhD level roles in science and research, UK graduates switching from a Tier 4 visa and the Intra Company Transfer Graduate Trainee Visa category.

 

Skilled Worker Tier 2 Visa application costs

The cost of making the skilled worker visa application itself will depend on whether the application is being made in the UK or from overseas:

 

Applications made outside the UK Fee
Skilled worker, where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for three years or less – main applicant and dependants £610
Skilled Worker, where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for over three years – main applicant and dependants £1,220
Skilled Worker, shortage occupation where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for three years or less – main applicant and dependants £464
Skilled Worker, shortage occupation, where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for over three years – main applicant and dependants £928
Skilled Worker – Health and Care Visa – where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for three years or less – main applicant and dependants £232
Skilled Worker – Health and Care Visa – where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for over three years – main applicant and dependants £464
Skilled Worker – Shortage Occupation – Health and Care Visa – where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for three years or less – main applicant and dependants £232
Skilled Worker – Shortage Occupation – Health and Care Visa – where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for over three years – main applicant and dependants £464

 

Applications made in the UK Fee
Skilled Worker, where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for three years or less  main applicant and dependants £704
Skilled Worker, where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for over three years – main applicant and dependants £1,408
Skilled Worker, shortage occupation where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for three years or less – main applicant and dependants £464
Skilled Worker, shortage occupation where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for over three years – main applicant and dependants £928
Skilled Worker – Health and Care Visa – where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for three years or less – main applicant and dependants £232
Skilled Worker – Health and Care Visa – where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for over three years -main applicant and dependants £464
Skilled Worker – Shortage Occupation – Health and Care Visa – where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for three years or less – main applicant and dependants £232
Skilled Worker – Shortage Occupation – Health and Care Visa – where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for over three years – main applicant and dependants £464

 

Immigration Health Surcharge

The Immigration Health Surcharge is payable by most UK visa applicants. It allows the visa holder to access the National Health Service (NHS) without further charge, although certain services will still need to be paid for if used.

The immigration health surcharge costs in 2021 are £624 per year main rate for visa and immigration applications or £470 per year discounted rate for student visa holders, those on the Youth Mobility Scheme and children under the age of 18.

The rate payable by the main applicant will apply to any dependants.

The charge is paid upfront when making the visa application.

Visa holders must have paid enough IHS to cover the duration of their leave in the UK. This means the total IHS payable is calculated on the basis of how much leave has been granted to the individual. For example, a five-year visa will cost 5 x £624 = £3120 for a single applicant.

Where the application includes part of a year that is less than 6 months, the applicant pays half the relevant yearly rate for that period.

They pay for a whole year if the application includes part of a year that is more than 6 months.

 

Premium and fast-tracked services

Under the Sponsor Licence Application Priority Service, applicants can pay an additional £500 for fast-tracked processing of their application and a decision within 10 working days. This service is generally of interest to employers who have already identified a candidate and who wish to expedite the recruitment and onboarding of their new recruit.

For visa and settlement applications, applicants may be able to pay for expedited processing under the priority and super priority services.

The standard processing time for visas varies between countries and service centres, and the type of visa being applied. Typically, applications can take anywhere between several weeks to several months.

Note however that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted UK visa processing and the availability of certain services, including priority and super priority services. Applicants and their sponsors are advised to check the service provision and availability at the relevant centre (in the UK or overseas) that will be processing their application.

If a visa applicant has secured employment and needs to arrive in the UK within a set period, priority service may be available for an additional fee.

 

Premium services for outside UK applications Fee
Priority visa service – settlement £573
Priority visa service – non-settlement £220
Super priority visa service £956
User-pay visa application centre £55
International Contact Centre – Email Service (per query) £2.74
International Contact Centre – Telephone Helpline (per minute) £0.69

 

Application category for inside UK applications Fee
Super Priority service £800
Expedited processing – Priority service £500
On-Demand service (Mobile Biometric Enrolment) (per hour per representative of the contractor providing the service) £650
The provision of an immigration officer to deliver any premium service, to a Government Department, relating to entry into or transit through the United Kingdom £57.33
The provision of an immigration officer to deliver any premium service, relating to entry into or transit through the United Kingdom £77.40
Premium status checks and advice – Administrative Officer (per minute) £0.80
Premium status checks, advice or training – Executive Officer (inside office hours) (per minute) £0.88
Premium status checks, advice or training – Executive Officer (outside office hours) (per minute) £1.10
Premium status checks, advice or training – Higher Executive Officer (inside office hours) (per minute)  £0.97
Premium status checks, advice or training – Higher Executive Officer (outside office hours) (per minute)  £1.23

 

Premium sponsor scheme 

The premium sponsor scheme is available to sponsors with an A-rated licence and a clear compliance record. For a fee, it offers an “enhanced level of support” through a dedicated account manager for tailored advice and support.

 

Application category Fee
Premium Sponsor Service (12 months) Worker sponsor and Temporary worker sponsor – large sponsors £25,000
Premium Sponsor Service (12 months) Worker sponsor and Temporary worker sponsor – small sponsors £8,000
Premium Sponsor Service (12 months) Student sponsors £8,000
The expedited processing of a sponsorship management request made by a Worker sponsor or Temporary worker sponsor £200
Priority service for expedited processing of sponsor licence applications £500

 

Sponsor action plan 

Where the Home Office alleges a sponsor has failed to meet their compliance duties, that may take enforcement action. Early stage sanctions can include imposing an action plan. This will cost the sponsor £1476.

 

Need assistance?

The high cost of sponsoring skilled worker visa workers has all the hallmarks of a UK hostile environment policy; designed to deter and outprice employers from accessing the global talent market, while encouraging the recruitment of UK settled workers (ie, individuals not subject to immigration control or restrictions such as British citizens and EEA nationals with EU settled status). It also has the added advantage of raising revenue for the Home Office.

With imminent changes to the rules on hiring EU workers, more employers than ever will be affected by the increased costs of recruiting non-UK resident workers. Hiring non-UK resident workers will undoubtedly become more costly for employers. Employers needing a sponsorship licence to hire EU and non-EEA workers from 2021 will need to factor in the various costs that will be incurred as part of the sponsorship regime.

We are specialist UK immigration lawyers, with substantial experience and recognised expertise in advising employers on the sponsorship regime, and recruiting from overseas to meet their talent needs.

With in-depth insight into the sponsorship process, we can provide a full appraisal of the skilled worker Tier 2 visa costs and the wider implications for your organisation of sponsoring migrant workers. For specialist immigration advice, contact us.

 

Skilled worker visa costs FAQs 

How much does it cost to sponsor a visa UK?

The fee to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship to a sponsored worker is £199. The Immigration Skills Charge of £1000 (reduced rate applies in limited circumstances) will also be payable when the CoS is issued.

How much does it cost to become a Tier 2 sponsor?

The employer will have to pay a number of fees to sponsor a skilled Tier 2 worker, including the sponsor licence application fee of £1,476 or £536 for smaller companies and charities.

Can you hire migrant workers without sponsoring them?

MIgrant workers can only work in the UK if they have permission. While most of the work visa routes under the points-based system require sponsorship by a licensed employer, there are some immigration routes which do not need sponsorship, but other eligibility criteria apply, eg the Global Talent route.

 

Last updated: 2 December 2020 

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