Who is exempt from paying
the Immigration Skills

Any UK organisation sponsoring migrant workers within their business are required to pay set immigration fees to the Home Office.

Some of these fees, such as the visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) are usually covered by the migrant worker. However, it is an employer’s responsibility to pay all fees relating to sponsorship, and these costs cannot be passed onto the applicant.

When assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to a worker under the Skilled Worker or Intra-Company Transfer routes, employers will usually be charged a fee of £199 to issue the certificate. On top of this, employers may need to pay an additional cost known as the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC).

The Immigration Skills Charge is a fee levied on businesses employing skilled migrants. Sponsors are required to pay the fee for each Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) they assign, unless an exemption applies.

How much is the Immigration Skills Charge?

The amount that an employer is required to pay for the Immigration Skills Charge will depend on the size of the organisation and the length of employment stated on the Certificate of Sponsorship.

The current fees are as follows:

  • Small or charitable sponsors: £364 for the first year of employment, plus £182 for each subsequent six-month period.
  • Medium or large sponsors: £1,000 for the first year, plus £500 for each additional six-month period.

If the worker will be in the UK for longer than six months but less than a year, you must pay for at least 12 months.

What are the exemptions?

Employers are exempt from paying the Immigration Skills Charge for an application if any of the following apply:

  • The applicant is seeking entry clearance for less than six months
  • The applicant currently holds permission as a student (is switching from the Tier 4 route or the Student route)
  • The applicant was previously exempt having switched from the Tier 4 or Student route, and is now applying to extend their permission in the same role with the same sponsor
  • The sponsor is the same as on the previous application and the new CoS validity period overlaps that of the previous CoS. (The exemption only covers the overlap, sponsors must pay the ISC to cover any extra time beyond the overlap).
  • The applicant was initially assigned a CoS before 6 April 2017 and has held continuous permission ever since under:
    • Tier 2 (General)
    • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer)
    • Skilled Worker
    • Intra-Company Transfer
  • The occupations falls under one of the following SOC codes:
    • Chemical scientists (2111)
    • Biological scientists and biochemists (2112)
    • Physical scientists (2113)
    • Social and humanities scientists (2114)
    • Natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified (2119)
    • Research and development managers (2150)
    • Higher education teaching professionals (2311)
    • Clergy (2444)
    • Sports players (3441)
    • Sports coaches, instructors or officials (3442)

Can the Immigration Skills Charge be refunded?

Employers are entitled to a refund of the ISC costs paid if the worker’s application for a visa is refused or withdrawn, or if the application is successful but the applicant does not start work.

A partial refund may be granted if the worker gets less time granted on their visa than they have been sponsored for, if they change to another sponsor or if they leave their job before the end date stated on their CoS.

Expert support with sponsor compliance

Whether you are new to sponsorship or you have been a licenced sponsor for several years, it is crucial for businesses to remain up to date with current guidelines in order to maintain ongoing compliance.

If you have questions about compliance or any other area of sponsoring skilled workers, Smith Stone Walters would be happy to help.

To speak to a member of our immigration team, please contact us today.

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