How much does it cost to sponsor a worker on a skilled worker visa?
Many UK businesses are now calculating the cost of Brexit in terms of the end of free movement and the requirement, from the 1 January 2021, to sponsor EU workers under the points based Immigration system and the skilled worker visa route. For those employers used to recruiting from overseas, and specifically non-EEA countries, the cost of sponsorship won't come as a surprise but it is for many UK businesses are looking into applying for a Home Office sponsor licence for the first time, knowing that they will need to recruit workers from overseas because of the UK skills gap. In this blog we look at the cost of sponsoring a worker on a skilled worker visa if your business commits to funding the costs for the worker.
UK Sponsor Licence solicitors
London based OTS Solicitors specialise in business immigration law and have an expert team of work visa and sponsor licence solicitors with substantial experience in applying for and managing sponsor licences. For information on the new skilled worker visa and how to best apply for a Sponsor Licence call the Sponsor Licence immigration lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.
What is the Home Office fee for a Sponsor Licence?
If your business doesn’t already have a Sponsor Licence then the first fee that your business will incur is the Home Office Sponsor Licence fee. Without a Sponsor Licence your business won't be able to recruit overseas based workers unless the worker is an EU national who has either already secured settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or is eligible to apply for pre-settled status or settled status by the cut-off date of the 30 June 2021. An EU national is only eligible to apply for settled status if they are already based in the UK or come to live in the UK before the end of free movement at 11 pm on the 31 December 2020.
The cost of a Home Office sponsor licence depends on the size and nature of your organisation. The fees are as follows:
- Small businesses and charities -if your business falls within the definition of a small business, or is a charity, the Sponsor Licence fee is currently £536. Your company is usually classed as ‘small’ if the company has a turnover of no more than £10.2 million or the company has fifty employees or fewer. However, it is best to check on whether your company is ‘small’ as the Home Office use the legal definition of a small company contained in the Companies Act
- Medium or large businesses – if your business isn’t classed as small then the Sponsor Licence fee for a skilled worker visa Sponsor Licence is £1,476.
What is the Certificate of Sponsorship cost?
In addition to the Home Office Sponsor Licence fee if your business sponsors a worker on a skilled worker visa then you have to assign each worker a Certificate of Sponsorship. That certificate enables the skilled worker visa applicant to apply for their visa. The cost of each Certificate of Sponsorship to your business is £199 per visa applicant.
What is the Immigration skills charge?
When a business sponsors a worker under a skilled worker visa the business has to pay an Immigration skills charge for each sponsored worker. The fee can't be passed onto the visa applicant. The Immigration skills charge is based on the size of your business. The fees are as follows:
- Small businesses and charities -if your business falls within the definition of a small business, or is a charity, the Immigration skills charge is £364 for the first twelve months and £182 for each additional six months of the visa
- Medium or large businesses – if your business isn’t classed as small then the Immigration skills charge is £1,000 for the first twelve months and £500 for each additional six months of the visa.
The full Immigration skills charge for the length of the skilled worker visa must be paid in full at the time of the application. If the sponsored worker leaves your Employment or is made redundant before the expiry of their visa then it is possible to apply for a partial refund of the Immigration skills charge.
It is best to take sponsor licence advice on the Immigration skills charge as in some scenarios your business won't have to pay it. For example, there are some exemptions for PhD level roles in science and research or for UK graduates who are switching from a Tier 4 visa to the skilled worker visa.
What is the Sponsor Licence premium sponsor scheme?
If your business has an A rated Sponsor Licence and a good compliance record then your business can chose to pay for the premium sponsor scheme. That means the Home Office provides enhanced support through the provision of an account manager. The premium fee depends on the size of your business and the length of time that your business requires premium support. The cost ranges from £2,000 to £8,000 for a small business to £6,250 to £25,000 for a large business.
If your business doesn’t want to incur those additional Home Office support costs but is anxious about complying with Sponsor Licence management responsibilities and the consequences of the Sponsor Licence being downgraded, revoked or suspended then it is best to look at professional sponsor licence management services to help you manage the Sponsor Licence. This type of Sponsor Licence management service can be cost effective when looking at the costs to your business of the Sponsor Licence being subject to Home Office enforcement action. For example, if the Home Office makes your business the subject of an action plan the Home Office action plan fee is £1,476.
What is the Home Office fee for a skilled worker visa?
The Home Office fee for a skilled worker visa doesn’t depend on the size of your business but instead depends on:
- Whether the application is being made from within the UK or from overseas
- The length of the visa application
- Whether the job the applicant is applying for is on the Shortage Occupation List.
The cost of the visa can range from £462 to £1,220 depending on those variables.
What is the Immigration health surcharge?
In addition to the visa application fee a visa applicant has to pay the Immigration health surcharge in order to access National Health Service treatment. The fee is mandatory and is payable even if the business offers full private health care to all its employees. The Immigration health surcharge is currently £624 per year for each skilled worker visa applicant. If the job applicant is bringing family members to the UK the Immigration health surcharge will also be payable for dependants although the fee is discounted to £470 for children under the age of eighteen.
The full amount of the Immigration health surcharge is payable at the time of the visa application so if a visa is for three years the Immigration health surcharge fee is £1,872. The Immigration health surcharge for a skilled worker visa applicant and family of three is a significant amount for most sponsored workers to find upfront.
How can OTS Solicitors help?
The cost of sponsoring an overseas worker on a skilled worker visa has to be offset against the impact on your business of not being able to meet orders or expand through not being able to recruit the right UK based workers with the necessary skill set or to be able to put the training in place in time for UK settled workers to be able to carry out the job function at a level of expertise that your business demands.
With the end of free movement and the introduction of the new points based Immigration system in January 2021 more UK businesses and employers are having to assess their recruitment needs and requirement for their first Home Office Sponsor Licence. OTS Solicitors are specialist sponsor licence solicitors having the expertise to guide your business through the Sponsor Licence application process and, if you chose to do so, we can manage your sponsor licence for your business to enable your business to focus on its profitability and growth, without the hassle of additional bureaucracy.
UK work visa and Sponsor Licence solicitors
OTS Solicitors specialise in business immigration and employment law and are recommended in the two leading law directories, The Legal 500 and Chambers Guide to the Legal Profession. For Sponsor Licence advice call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us here. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.