The UK wants to attract the brightest and the best from around the world to work here…. but the bill which typically can run into thousands of pounds falls to UK employers to pay! Since Brexit, UK employers also have to pay to recruit EU workers under the Points Based Immigration System.
Whether the cost is worth it will come down to business needs and the specific knowledge and skills of the individual worker in question.
Cost of a sponsor licence
A sponsorship licence is valid for four years. An employer applying for a sponsor licence will either pay:
- £536 if the organisation is a charity or defined as a small business; or
- £1,476 for large sponsors
A company qualifies as small if it meets 2 of the below criteria in a financial year:
- turnover is not more than £10.2 million
- balance sheet total is not more than £5.1 million (aggregate of the amounts shown as assets in the company’s balance sheet)
- number of employees does not exceed 50 (taken as an average across the financial year)
One of the most common routes to work in the UK is the Skilled Worker category. The application fee will depend on factors including the length of the visa, whether they are applying inside or outside of the UK and whether the role is on the shortage occupation list which has been expanded considerably over the last 18 months. There is a discount of £55 for EU workers.
The application fee is paid by the employee at the point of submission – in reality the fee is often paid by the employer.
- visa up to three years in a non-shortage occupation: £610
- visa up to three years in a shortage occupation: £464
- visa for more than three years in non-shortage occupation: £1,220
- visa for more than three years in a shortage occupation: £928
Certificate of sponsorship
Once an employer has obtained a sponsorship licence, it will need to obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship “CoS” to assign to the worker applying for the Skilled Workers Visa.
The cost of issuing each certificate of sponsorship is £199 but free for EU citizens.
Immigration Skills Charge
The employer pays a tax to employ a foreign worker. This is paid when the employer assigns the Certificate of Sponsorship to the worker.
There is no charge for certain occupations, notably scientists, sports players and higher education professionals.
Refunds are possible in certain circumstances.
For a small or charitable sponsor, the Immigration Skills Charge is £364 for the first year and £182 for each additional six months. So the cost of sponsoring someone for five years would be £1,820.
For a medium or large sponsor, the charge is £1,000 for the first year and £500 for each additional six months. The cost of sponsoring someone for five years would be £5,000.
Immigration Health Surcharge
The Immigration Health surcharge is payable by the employee at the time he/she submits their Skilled Visa application.
It is £624 for each year of the visa. So the Immigration Health Surcharge adds £3,120 to the cost of a five-year visa, £1,872 to a three-year visa and £624 for a one-year visa.
For other immigration categories, the cost is
- £470 per year for a student or Youth Mobility Scheme visa, for example £940 for a 2-year visa
- £470 per year for visa and immigration applicants who are under the age of 18 at time of application
Sponsor Licence Priority Service
It can take between 3 and 8 weeks to obtain a sponsorship licence. It is possible to speed up the sponsor licence application process by paying an additional £500. The priority service is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. Any requests made outside these hours will not be considered.
Because only a maximum of 10 priority service requests will be accepted each day, it is possible for an employer to wait several days if not longer to obtain the benefit of this service!
Successful requests where payment has been made in time are considered within 10 working days.
To be eligible for this service:
- The employer must have submitted an application for a sponsor licence by completing the UKVI ‘Online sponsor application registration’. Once registered, the employer will be able to log into the UKVI ‘Sponsor Application log in’ page.
- the request must not be in progress/or allocated to a caseworker
- the employer must submit a fully completed application to the pre-licence priority service
- Upon acceptance of your application you will receive an email offering you the opportunity to apply for the enhanced service.
- The employer must email: PreLicencePriorityService@homeoffice.gov.uk, with a completed priority service – email request form as an attachment.
- The employer has 72 hours (this includes weekends) from when it receives the second email to pay the appropriate fee. If the Home Offices does not receive the payment within that time, the priority request will expire and the employer will need to apply again to be considered.
Priority Service for Skilled visa application
It may be possible to obtain a decision within 5 days of submitting a visa application from outside of the UK, or obtain a decision using the premium service by the end of the next working day.
Whether an employee can apply for a faster decision on a visa application depends on which country they applying from.
Because of coronavirus (COVID-19), an individual can only pay for a faster decision through some visa application centres. They’ll inform the employee if they can get a faster decision and the cost.
A worker may be able to pay for a faster decision on a visa application if they are applying from inside the UK as well. It costs £500 in addition to the application fee.
A decision will be made within 5 working days of the UK Visa and Citizen Application Services (UKVCAS) appointment.
To get a decision by the end of the next working day, an employee can choose the ‘super priority service’ when they apply. It costs £800 in addition to the application fee.
There is also a whole range of potential administration fees for matters including like being able to keep a passport throughout the process, and having a courier drop it off to the individual.
The Home Office also operates a premium service for sponsors. For a fee of £25,000 per year for a medium/large business, or £8,000 for a small business.
The above is just for the worker alone. Family members accompanying them to the UK are also liable for the visa application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge.
Sponsors cannot lawfully pass the Immigration Skill Charge on to individuals. The licence fee is also paid by the sponsor.
Javier runs a small travel business with clients from Malaysia. He needs to sponsor a Malay speaker to arrange visitors to the UK from that country.
Javier wants to employ Juno and the business agrees to sponsor Juno for five years.
The cost will be:
- Sponsor licence : £536
- Certificate of sponsorship: £199
- Immigration Skills Charge: £1,820
- Application fee: £1,220
- Immigration Health Surcharge: £3,120
Total = £6,895.
Juno wants the business to pay for her husband’s visa which is an additional £4,340. This comprises the visa application fee plus Immigration Health Surcharge, which are the same for family members as they are for the sponsored worker, which brings the total cost to £11,235.
For further advice and assistance in applying for a sponsor licence or a work permit, please contact our Immigration Team.
The material contained in this article is provided for general purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice specific to your situation, and should not be relied upon. Appropriate legal advice should be sought for your specific circumstances and before any action is taken.
© Miller Rosenfalck LLP, October 2021