The government has confirmed that on or after April 6, 2017, employers of Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa applicants will be subject to an Immigration Skills Charge at the time of assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), subject to parliamentary approval. The Immigration Skills Charge Regulations are expected to be laid before Parliament in the coming weeks.
Key Points of the Immigration Skills Charge
Relevant details include the following:
- The Immigration Skills Charge will be set at GBP 1,000 or GBP 364 for small businesses, charities or a person who employs no more than 50 employees;
- Sponsors will normally need to pay the first 12-month period in full (subject to the entry clearance exception described below). Thereafter, the fee will be calculated in six-month increments;
- An individual coming to the United Kingdom whose CoS is issued for two and half years would pay GBP 2,500 for the Immigration Skills Charge;
- The refund process is expected to follow the same provisions as the Immigration Health Surcharge fee where applications are refused or withdrawn; and
- Other than where an exception applies, ¿skilled workers switching into Tier 2 after the regulations come into force will be subject to the charge as will those that are assigned a CoS to change employers from within the United Kingdom after April 6, 2017.
There will be no Immigration Skills Charge for:
- Skilled workers applying for entry clearance for less than six months;
- Skilled workers switching from the Tier 4 visa category;
- Skilled workers working in PhD-level roles;
- Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Graduate Trainees;
- Skilled workers who are assigned a CoS before the regulations come into force and extend their leave or change their sponsor from within the United Kingdom; and
- Skilled workers who are assigned a CoS after the regulations have come into force that extend their leave with the same sponsor but change roles and the new CoS is issued for the same length as their first CoS.
The GBP 1,000 Immigration Skills Charge is part of a package recommended by the government’s Migration Advisory Committee. The funds will be reinvested in training UK workers.
What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals
Employers should be prepared for the Immigration Skills Charge for foreign employees and should plan for the expense in their budgets with their administrative departments.