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Immigration Skills Charge: Do I Need To Pay It?

The Tier 2 General Visa came into being as a need for general migration increased. As part of the Tier 2 General Visa route, the Home Office instituted the Immigration Skills Charge. The charge is not payable in all circumstance but is payable in the vast majority of Tier 2 General Visa cases. In this article, we look at who needs to pay the charge, when it is payable and provide other information about the Immigration Skills Charge to help you plan for your needs.

What are the visa routes that require the Immigration Skills Charge to be paid?

The two affected routes are Tier 2 General Visa and Tier 2 Intra-Company Visa. The changes were introduced in 2016 by the government in a series of changes to the immigration system in the UK. The charge came into effect in 2017 and there are no plans to scrap the charge at this time.

Are there any routes that do not require the payment of the Immigration Skills Charge?

  • You will also not need to pay if the applicant is a Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Trainee Visa
  • There is also no need to pay if the applicant will do a job with a PhD-level standard occupational classification (SOC) code.

The charge is not payable for dependents of the visa holder only for the visa holder themselves. This is a relief for those who are looking to bring in staff who have partners and children and it is better than they were not included in the rulings as they may want to bring dependents later in their stay.

When does my business need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge?

The charge is payable when you assign the Certificate of Sponsorship to the employee. There are possibilities for refunds if something goes wrong and we will look at that in further detail later on in the article. You will need to pay for the entire time that is specified on the Certificate of Sponsorship, so you will need to take this into account when calculating your costs for bringing in a new member of staff for your business via the Tier 2 General Visa route.

Can I pay the Immigration Skills Charge in instalments?

Unfortunately no, the Home Office specifies that you must pay the full charge in one go. This is due to the potential for payment to be avoided later on and means that the applicant will be covered for the whole period of their stay in the UK.

How much do we need to pay?

The charge is based on the size of your business. For instance, a small business or charity will pay £364 for the first 12 months (plus £182 per 6 months thereafter) and a medium or large company will pay £1,000 for the first 12 months (£500 for every 6 months thereafter).

If the worker will be in the UK for longer than 6 months but less than a year, you must pay for at least 12 months.

As the longest you can sponsor a worker for is 5 years, the most you have to pay will be:

  • £1,820 (5 x £364) if you're a small or charitable sponsor
  • £5,000 (5 x £1,000) if you're a medium or large sponsor

You will need to factor in these costs as part of your overall budgeting for the staff member, you will also need to account for the added paperwork that is involved with having Tier 2 General Visa staff. If you need any assistance with the management of your HR with regards to Tier 2 general Visas then do get in touch, we can help with your HR management of these staff and ensure that you are keeping accurate records as required by your licence.

What size is my business classified as?

A small business is defined by the Home Office as having a turnover of less than £10.2 million. It is also defined by having fewer than 50 employees. If your business does not fall into this category you will need to pay the higher charge for each applicant that you wish to provide a Certificate of Sponsorship for.

Can I get a refund if something goes wrong?

The Home Office is aware that sometimes not everything goes to plan on bringing someone into your business from abroad. It is fraught with potential issues and the Home Office does take this into account with its rulings. There are so many possibilities for things to go wrong and they will offer you a refund in certain circumstances. You'll get a full refund if the worker's visa application is:

  • refused or withdrawn
  • successful, but they don't come to work for you

You'll get a partial refund if the worker:

  • gets less time on their visa than you sponsored them for
  • starts working for you but then changes to another sponsor
  • leaves their job before the end date of their certificate of sponsorship.

How long does the refund take?

Refunds are available, but unfortunately, they do take some time to process. You usually get a refund within 90 days of:

  • telling UKVI that the worker didn't come to work for you
  • the expiration date on the worker's certificate of sponsorship, if they didn't use it to apply for a visa
  • the date the worker's visa application is refused or withdrawn

How we can help

If you have any further questions on the Immigration Skills Charge or indeed have any other query that is related to immigration then please get in touch. Our immigration solicitors have the experience and knowledge to help give you advice and support on any visa query. So for more information call us today.

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