Applying for a UK Tier 2 visa is a complex process with specific costs to be taken into account both for the employing sponsor and the job applicant.
The following guide looks at the cost of Tier 2 visa fees for employers and their prospective employees to help with application planning.
Tier 2 of the points based system is the primary immigration route for skilled migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to work in the UK. There are four different categories under the Tier 2 route:
- Tier 2 (General) – for non-EEA nationals to fill jobs that cannot be filled by a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker. This includes workers coming to the UK to fill shortage occupations, ie; where there are not enough skilled workers in the domestic labour market to meet demand.
- Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer (ICT)) – for existing employees who are non-EEA nationals to transfer to a UK branch.
- Tier 2 (Sportsperson) – for internationally established elite athletes and qualified coaches to be based in the UK.
- Tier 2 (Minister of Religion) – for religious workers to undertake employment within a faith community in the UK.
To apply for a Tier 2 visa under any one of the four categories above, the visa applicant will need to submit an online application using Form DS-160 and pay the relevant fee.
The current Tier 2 visa fees vary depending on the nature of the category and the length of time the worker is seeking to apply for a visa.
The different Tier 2 fees when applying from outside the UK are as follows:
- Tier 2 (General), (ICT), (Sportsperson) & (Minister of Religion), where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for a period of 3 years or less – £610
- Tier 2 (ICT) for graduate trainees – £482
- Tier 2 (General), (ICT), where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for a period of more than 3 years – £1220
- Tier 2 (General) shortage occupation where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for a period of 3 years or less – £464
- Tier 2 (General) shortage occupation where a certificate of sponsorship has been issued for a period of more than 3 years – £928.
Please note, there are different Tier 2 visa fees when applying from inside the UK. In either case, the applicant may also need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) as part of their immigration application.
The IHS is currently set at £400 per year for Tier 2 visa applicants, with dependants usually required to pay the same amount, and must be paid in full when the visa application is being submitted. This is in addition to the relevant Tier 2 visa fees. However, having paid the surcharge, the visa holder will be entitled to receive free health services under the NHS.
Costs of sponsoring a Tier 2 visa worker
To be able to apply for a Tier 2 visa, the applicant will first need the offer of a suitable job from a licensed sponsor who is able to assign them a valid certificate of sponsorship (CoS). A Tier 2 sponsor licence is the permission granted to an employer to issue the necessary CoS to skilled migrant workers. A sponsorship licence is necessary to show:
- Where relevant, that the migrant will fill a genuine vacancy that cannot be filled by a suitably qualified or skilled settled worker.
- That the sponsor agrees to meet all of the duties and obligations associated with sponsoring a migrant.
To be eligible for a Tier 2 sponsor licence, the company or organisation submitting the application must show it is genuine and operating lawfully in the UK. It must also be able to offer a genuine vacancy that meets the Tier 2 skill level and minimum appropriate rates of pay.
In considering the suitability of the licence applicant, the Home Office will assess the HR systems in place to see if these are adequate to enable the sponsor to meet its duties and obligations. Further, those responsible for running the company or organisation, as well as any key personnel named on the licence application, must be honest, dependable and reliable.
As with a Tier 2 visa, an application for a Tier 2 sponsor licence will need to be submitted online, together with a number of supporting documents and the relevant fee.
The level of fee for a Tier 2 licence will depend on the size of the company or organisation submitting the application. For small companies, or for those with charitable status, the small sponsor licence fee will be payable.
Typically, a business will be subject to the small companies regime if it is has an annual turnover of no more than £10.2 million, a balance sheet total of no more than £5.1 million, or no more than 50 employees.
The fee for a Tier 2 licence for small or charitable sponsors is £536, while for medium or large sponsors it is £1476.
Costs of issuing a Certificates of Sponsorship
Each time a licensed sponsor assigns a certificate of sponsorship to a Tier 2 non-EEA migrant worker, the company or organisation will be required to pay a fee of £199. There is no charge for citizens of Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey.
At the point a certificate is issued, the employer may also be required to pay what’s known as the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC). This is entirely different to the Immigration Health Surcharge, and must be paid by the employer rather than the prospective employee. It cannot be passed onto the sponsored worker.
The ISC is payable by the licensed sponsor where the migrant worker is applying for a visa to work in the UK for 6 months or more under either a Tier 2 (General) visa or a Tier 2 (ICT) visa. As with the fee payable for a Tier 2 sponsor licence, this is based on the size of the company or organisation in question, as well as for how long the individual will be working for that employer.
For small and charitable sponsors the charge is set at £364 for the first 12 months, and £182 for each additional 6 months. For a medium or large sponsor it is set at £1,000 for the first 12 months, and an additional £500 for every further 6 months. If the worker will be in the UK for longer than 6 months but less than a year, the full charge for 12 months still falls due.
However, the licensed sponsor will be exempt from paying this charge where the non-EEA migrant worker will be coming to the UK for a period of less than 6 months. The ISC will also not be payable in the following circumstances, namely where the employee:
- Has a Tier 4 (Student) visa and is switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa
- Has a Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainee visa
- Will do a job with a PhD-level standard occupational classification code.
In the event that a licensed sponsor assigns a certificate of sponsorship but fails to pay the charge, the certificate will be rendered invalid for as long as that payment obligation remains outstanding. This means that any application for entry clearance, or leave to remain, made on the basis of that certificate will be delayed until the charge is paid in full.
Do you have a question about Tier 2 visa fees?
Whether you are a sponsor or a Tier 2 visa holder, DavidsonMorris can assist with the Tier 2 visa process.
We specialise in UK visa applications and can advise on eligibility, provide guidance on supporting documentation and support through the application process. We have particular expertise where circumstances are more complex, such as pressing leadtimes or where there are previous immigration or compliance issues relating to either the sponsor or the worker.
For advice on the Tier 2 visa application fees and process, or any aspect of UK business immigration, talent mobility, international recruitment and work visas, contact us.