UK: Immigration Skills Charge for Employers of Migrant Workers

The Home Office have released an addendum to the Tier 2 guidance, which states that additional fees will be charged to employers who recruit skilled migrant labour from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA). Subject to parliamentary approval, this is expected to come into force on 6th April 2017.

The introduction of the Immigration Skills Charge for employers who preferentially employ skilled migrants is designed to incentivise employers to invest in training and upskilling the resident workforce.

Employers will pay £1,000 per Tier 2 migrant sponsored per year, with a reduced rate of £364 per migrant per year for small and charitable sponsors. The skills charge is not applicable for the worker’s dependants.

The skills charge will apply to a sponsor of a Tier 2 worker assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship in the ‘General’ or ‘Intra-company Transfer’ route and who will be applying from:

Outside the UK for a visa
Inside the UK to switch to this visa from another
Inside the UK to extend their existing visa

The skills charge does not apply if you are sponsoring:

A non-EEA national who was sponsored in Tier 2 before 6th April 2017 and is applying from inside the UK to extend their Tier 2 stay with either the same sponsor or a different sponsor
A Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainee
A worker to do a specified PhD level occupation
A Tier 4 student visa holder in the UK switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa

According to the latest guidance, the fees collected by the Home Office will be used by the Department for Education to address skills gaps in the UK workforce.

What does this mean for businesses?

Employers of migrant workers should prepare for an additional cost of £1000 per employee per year of their assignment in the UK. Sponsors will need to pay the skills charge at the same time that they pay to assign a Certificate of Sponsorship. Therefore, applications should be made as soon as possible and prior to April 2017 to avoid incurring this cost.

These additional fees, along with the extra level of scrutiny being applied to immigration cases in general, mean that the cost of a rejected application have never been greater.

With the government seemingly looking to reduce the number of skilled workers in the UK, it is likely that the application process for Tier 2 visas will become increasingly less straightforward. The margin for error is small, with the potential cost to your business high.

For companies who employ migrant workers, it is now more important than ever to ensure all Tier 2 applicants meet all of the necessary requirements in order to avoid the need for making repeat applications and incurring further fees.

If you have any further questions, or wish to initiate any Tier 2 applications prior to the charges being implemented, please contact your Account Manager or email us at and one of our consultants will be happy to provide further clarity.

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