Plan The Costs Involved With Skilled Worker Visa Sponsorship

Mahesh Maiya

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Increasing number of organisations in the UK are now licenced sponsors. The shortage of skilled workforce, record number of vacancies in certain sectors and the Brexit have all created a situation where it has become a necessity for organisations to search for talent across borders. 

With this comes the vital consideration and planning required by any business owner to factor in the various costs associated with sponsoring migrant workers. This blog talks about the home office fee related costs involved in the recruitment chain. 

Let’s start with Sponsor Licence

A business cannot sponsor a migrant worker unless they hold a sponsor licence. The home office fee for a skilled worker sponsor licence depends on the type of organisation. The current application’s fees for a small or charitable sponsor to obtain a sponsor licence is £536 and £1,476 for a large sponsor.

An organisation is a small sponsor if it fulfills at least 2 of the following requirements:

  • annual turnover of the organisation is £10.2 million or less
  • total assets are approximately £5.1 million or less
  • Organisation has 50 employees or fewer

A charitable sponsor is an organisation that is: 

  • a registered charity in England or Wales; a registered charity in Scotland.
  • a registered charity in Northern Ireland – if you aren’t on the register, you must submit HM Revenue and Customs with confirmation of your charitable status for tax purposes (HMRC)
  • a charity that has been accepted
  • a tax-exempt organisation
  • an ecclesiastical corporation with charitable aims

Once you have the sponsor licence, you are able to start the process of sponsoring a migrant worker from across the world or someone already in the UK within limited or no rights to work. The process for sponsor licence application can be complex and you can avoid costly mistakes by instructing professionals to handle this for you. You can have a look at our pricing calculator here. 

Certificate of Sponsorship issue Fee

Certificate of Sponsorship or a CoS is requested by the sponsor through their Sponsor Management System (SMS). Whilst there are no fees paid to make a request you incur an Issue fee when assigning the CoS to the identified worker. Currently the CoS issue fee is £199 regardless the period of sponsorship offered. This is a non-refundable cost and hence you must be absolutely certain before you assign the CoS to anyone. 

Immigration Skills Charge

Whilst assigning the CoS your SMS would compute the relevant Immigration Skills Charge applicable. Unless you meet the certain criteria’s, which allows exemptions, you are required to pay this whilst assigning the CoS. The fee only applies to the primary applicant; it does not apply to their family members (dependants). For a small or charity organisation, the ISC is £364 for the first year and £182 for each successive six months. or a large sponsor, the ISC is £1,000 for the first year and £500 for each following six months. The payment for the sponsored duration is paid up front. You may be eligible to request a refund in the event the worker is not sponsored for the planned duration. You can learn more about the ISC here. 

The CoS issue fee and the Immigration Skills charge are costs that needs to be legally borne by the employer and cannot be passed on to the worker in any form. 

Moving on to Skilled Worker Visa Application Fee

The visa application fees usually fall on the prospective employee to pay, however as an employer you may chose to bear the costs. 

For applicants applying from inside or outside the UK, the fee payable depends on the length of their sponsorship.

Applicants from outside the UK:

  • You must pay £625 per person for up to 3 years 
  • You must pay £1,235 per person for more than 3 years 

Payment is taken in the local currency. Therefore, the exact amount charged may differ depending on the conversion rate on the date of application. Depending on the service provider used in the country of application for biometrics enrolment, a small fee may apply for their charges. 

Applicants from inside the UK:

  • If you make application for up to 3 years, you must pay £719 per person
  • If you make application for more than 3 years, you must pay £1,423 per person

In addition to the application fees, applicants from inside the UK may also pay a biometric enrolment fee, unless the application is eligible to be made through the UKVI app.

For applicants that are sponsored to work on a job listed in the shortage occupation list, the fees payable is lower:

  • You need to pay £464 per individual for up to 3 years 
  • You need to pay £928 per individual for more than 3 years 

Applicants from the following countries will have their fees reduced by £55: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Hungary,, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey, Iceland, Ireland

Finally, the Immigration Health Surcharge

Like the UKVI application fees, the IHS also falls on the prospective employee to pay, unless the employer wishes the bear the costs themselves. The fees is paid in order to start using the NHS benefits. The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) pays for access to NHS healthcare services but does not cover individual treatment costs such as prescriptions, dental treatment and sight tests.

You usually need to pay the healthcare surcharge if you’re applying for a visa or immigration application:

  • for more than 6 months, if you’re applying outside the UK
  • for any length of time, if you’re applying inside the UK
  • You do not need to pay if you’re applying for a visitor visa or to remain in the UK permanently.

There are various exemptions available where the applicant may not be required to pay the surcharge and the most prominent exemption is if the applicant is a health care worker (or their dependant) who is eligible for a health care worker visa. 

The usual surcharge is £624 per year based on the amount of leave granted on the visa. If your visa is for more than a year, you’ll have to pay:

  • the yearly cost plus half the yearly cost, if it’s for 18 months or less
  • the cost of 2 full years, if it’s for more than 18 months but less than 2 years

The fee would be reduced to £470 per year for visa and immigration applicants who are under the age of 18 at time of application

How can we assist

Our team has extensive expertise in all matters relating to sponsor licence and subsequent visa processing. We can ensure all aspects are checked to ensure you don’t end up paying more than you need to. Our experience in this sector has allowed us to create various retainer packages for business who would like assistance with their ongoing sponsor duties and need expert advice regularly. This can be a very cost-effective way to manage your obligations as a sponsor instead of investing towards in-house expertise and visa processing. 

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you manage your licence, assist with skilled worker visa application and adhere to your duties in the most cost-effective way. 


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