What has changed?
Can a sponsor avoid this additional cost?


Underlying secondary legislation requires the immigration health surcharge (IHS) to be charged according to the length of immigration permission granted to a person; however, up until 1 February 2022, the Home Office portal had been using the length of a main applicant's certificate of sponsorship (CoS) to calculate the amount payable for the IHS.

The Home Office has now corrected the IHS procedure to address previous undercharging for sponsored workers. Stakeholders were notified of the change on 4 February 2022 via email.

What has changed?

No IHS is payable where UK immigration permission is granted up to a total of six months. After that, the IHS is payable at a rate of £624 per year per individual. If the person has a part-year immigration permission of up to six months, they will pay £312 for that period. If the part-year is over six months, the full annual amount of £624 for that part-year is payable.

The immigration rules provide for sponsored workers to be granted immigration permission for a short period before and after the dates that are listed on their CoS. This means that in many cases, the portal has been undercharging main applicants by £312. This system error did not affect the calculation of IHS payments for dependants.

For example, the immigration rules state that a skilled worker CoS can be issued for up to five years. An application may be submitted up to three months before the start date that is noted on the CoS, and immigration permission may be granted for 14 days after the end date of the CoS. Therefore, a person with a CoS issued for five years may be granted immigration permission from five years and 14 days to five years, three months and 14 days. The system change means that they would have to pay IHS that covers five-and-a-half years, rather than five years.

Can a sponsor avoid this additional cost?

A sponsor may be able to avoid this additional cost by reducing the length of the CoS. The scale of such a reduction in specific cases will depend on the sponsored work category and how far in advance of the CoS start date the immigration permission is likely to be valid.

A sponsor would also need to consider whether reducing the length of a CoS may lead to a shortfall in the overall immigration permission that is required for a sponsored worker to qualify for settlement. If the reduction is too significant, this could potentially lead to an additional extension application needing to be made, which would entail the necessary attendants cost and administration.

For further information on this topic please contact Andrew Osborne, Supinder Singh Sian, Stephen O'Flaherty or Priya Gandhi at Lewis Silkin by telephone (+44 20 7074 8000‚Äč) or email ([email protected], [email protected], stephen.o'[email protected] or [email protected]). The Lewis Silkin website can be accessed at www.lewissilkin.com.