Over recent years, the Government has frequently increased the costs incurred by organisations seeking to sponsor individuals to work in the UK. Here, we take a look at the sponsorship costs under the Skilled Worker route which replaced Tier 2 Sponsor License Visa (General).
It is important that organisations are aware of the associated costs of skilled worker sponsorship at the outset in order to ensure that it is a feasible option for them. Of course, the costs associated with using specialist recruitment agencies can also be significant and, in many cases, the costs of sponsorship may be worthwhile vs specialist recruitment agent’s fees.
Skilled Worker Sponsorship
Organisations that wish to sponsor workers will first need to make an application to the Home Office to obtain a Sponsor Licence.
Once an organisation holds a sponsor licence it will then be able to sponsor non-EEA nationals and EU citizens to work in skilled roles.
The initial cost is the Sponsor Licence application fee. This amount to be paid varies depending on whether an organisation is considered to be a small company or a medium/large company.
An organisation will be considered to be a small company if it meets the definition set out within Section 382 of The Companies Act 2006. To meet this definition, two out of the following three requirements must be met:
- 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.
If an organisation meets at least two requirements, it will be classed as a small company, otherwise it will be required to pay the higher fee when applying for a sponsor licence. An organisation will also automatically be classed as a large company if it is a:
- public company;
- insurance company;
- banking company; or
- an e-money issuer.
The current fee payable for small companies to obtain a sponsor licence is £536 and it is £1,476 for large companies.
The application process can be expedited for an additional cost of £500.
Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) and Immigration Skills Charge
Once an organisation has a sponsor licence, it will need to issue a CoS to any individuals who are to be sponsored. This fee is currently £199.
2017 saw the introduction of the Immigration Skills Charge. Whilst this fee is not payable in relation to those who are switching from the Tier 4/Student route into the Skilled Worker category, it applies in the majority of other circumstances and is set at a rate of £1,000 per year of sponsorship for large companies and £364 per year for small ones.
This fee is payable at the time of assigning a CoS and it cannot be passed along to the worker, it must be paid by the sponsoring organisation.
If a large organisation was to sponsor an individual for three years, a payment of £3,000 would be required at the time of assigning the CoS, in addition to the £199 CoS fee.
The Immigration Skills Charge is designed to encourage British businesses to recruit and train UK employees. However, it will take time for the charge to be used to develop the skills of the settled workforce and will unfortunately therefore not benefit those organisations who have an immediate skills shortage now.
Visa application fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge
The visa application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge both apply to the individual applicant rather than the sponsoring organisation and are paid when the visa application is submitted. The employer can of course agree to cover the cost/reimburse the applicant.
The visa application fee that an applicant will need to pay varies depends on several factors including the duration of sponsorship and whether an individual is making their application from within or outside of the UK. The current fee range falls between £610 – £1,408 and generally increases each April.
Applicants from these EEA+ countries receive an automatic £55 reduction: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.
In addition to the visa application fee, the Immigration Health Surcharge is also payable and is now £624 per year for those applying under the Skilled Worker route. Using the above example again, an individual who is to be sponsored for three years would need to pay £1,872 for the Immigration Health Surcharge when submitting their application for leave.
Employers must also pay the minimum salary level for the role as set out in the relevant Occupation Code.
Skilled Worker Sponsorship: How our immigration solicitors can help
We are experienced in advising both employers and individuals in relation to the sponsor license process and offer competitive fixed fee options. Should you require any further information about this please contact us or complete our enquiry form below.
This article was originally published in December 2020 and has been lightly updated; it is accurate as of the new date of publication shown.