UK Immigration Skills Charge - A Guide For Employers
If you are looking to bring a migrant to the UK in order to sponsor their employment, you will almost certainly need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge. This charge, implemented in 2017, is aimed at trying to make domestic workers look more attractive to businesses by making it more difficult and more expensive to bring in non-EEA workers. While some may question why the charge is necessary, it is, unfortunately, a necessary evil and applies to many businesses up and down the country who want to sponsor a migrant taking a job under certain visa routes in the UK.
In this article, we are going to look at the Immigration Skills Charge in detail. We are going to look at who needs to pay the charge, how they pay it and ways to get a refund in the event that the migrant worker does not end up coming to the UK to work. By the end of this article, you should be fully aware of how the charge will be applied and your responsibilities when it comes to paying it.
Do I Need To Pay The Immigration Skills Charge?
If you are looking to bring a non-EEA migrant worker to the UK to work for your business for more than 6 months (unless they are already in the UK - in this instance the charge still applies even if the worker is going to be with you for fewer than 6 months) then it is highly likely that you will need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge. Currently, the charge applies to just 2 visa routes:
Under these routes, the Immigration Skills Charge becomes payable upon the creation of a suitable Certificate of Sponsorship for your intended worker. If you fail to pay the charge, the Certificate of Sponsorship that you have created for your new intended staff member will become null and void, and your sponsored employee will not be able to apply for a UK visa. It is vital that you ensure that the charge is paid in good time to avoid any further issues down the road.
When And How Do I Pay The Immigration Skills Charge?
You will be notified through the SMS system as to when you will need to pay the charge, you will also be able to pay for it through the service. This generally happens as soon as you assign a Certificate of Sponsorship, and it is important that you pay quickly in order to avoid any issues with the application of your would-be staff member. Remember, if you do not pay, the Certificate of Sponsorship will be null and void. The charge becomes payable as soon as the Certificate of Sponsorship is created, and it is often best to pay it as soon as possible. If you do not pay straight away, you will receive a reminder from UKVI and will be given 10 days to pay, failure to pay in this timeframe will mean that the Certificate of Sponsorship has been invalidated.
The Immigration Skills Charge is worked out annually, and you will need to pay the full amount for the time that you wish to sponsor the applicant, in one go. As the minimum term is 12 months, you will need to pay at least the minimum of one year even if your new worker is only going to be with you for a few months. Please also note that the charge applies solely to the applicant and not any dependents that they intend to bring with them to the UK.
How Much Is The Immigration Skills Charge?
Currently, there is a two-tier cost in place for the Immigration Skills Charge. This charge is based on the size of the business and its annual turnover. Essentially there is a reduced charge for small and charitable organisations (with either 50 employees or fewer and/or turnover of less than £10.2m per year) of £364 for the first 12 months and £182 for each additional 6 month period. For businesses who do not fall under this reduced category, their charge will be £1,000 for the first 12 months and £500 for each additional 6 month period of stay in the UK.
So, in order to work out your cost, you will need to take the period of time that you are sponsoring the applicant for and multiply it by the charge. For instance, if you were a medium or large business and wanted to sponsor a Tier 2 General Visa holder for 3 years, the charge would be 1 x 12 months at £1,000 and 4 x 6 months at £2,000 (4 x £500) equalling £3,000 total. If you choose to extend the visa at a later date, you would need to pay the charge for the extended period. As the initial visa period can be up to 5 years, the maximum you would need to pay in one go is £5,000.
Can I Get A Refund On The Immigration Skills Charge If Something Changes?
Yes, in certain circumstances you can receive a full or partial refund. If, for instance, your employee fails to gain a visa, you will be entitled to a full refund, you will also receive a refund if they choose not to take a job with you. As far as partial refunds are concerned, you may be eligible for a partial refund if your employee switches to another sponsor while working for you, receives less time than applied for on their visa or does not see out the entirety of their Certificate of Sponsorship with yourself. You will need to consult the SMS system in order to apply for a refund and you may need to contact UKVI if you do not receive your refund within 90 days.
Getting More Help
If you need more help with the Immigration Skills Charge please get in touch with our team of immigration lawyers. Call today for a free, no-obligation consultation and let us help you with your query.