As a Sponsor, you may be required to pay the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) each time you sponsor a migrant in the Tier 2 General or Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Long-term Staff subcategory.

What is the immigration Skills Charge?

The Immigration Skills Charge is a charge for each foreign worker that you employ.

The amount you are required to pay is specified in the Schedule to the Immigration Skills Charge Regulations 2017. The ISC was introduced on 06 April 2017. The ISC must be paid each time you assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to a migrant.

The information on money received from Immigration Skills Charge payments is found in the Home Office Trust Statement 2017 to 2018 published on 08 January 2019. The ISC is said to help maintain the Department of Education’s existing skills budget and existing level of investment in skills in England. The purpose is to address the skills gap in the workplace.

Who is required to pay the Immigration Skills Charge?

Many sponsors enquire about whether they can ask the worker to pay the Immigration Skills Charge on the outset or through deductions of their salary. The ISC must be paid by the sponsor and cannot be passed to the worker through any means. The consequence of passing on the ISC to the worker include the revocation of your sponsor licence.

How much is the Immigration Skills Charge?

The amount you are required to pay is dependent on the size and type of your organisation and the length of employment stated on the CoS. The Immigration Skills Charge Calculator can be used to determine if you need to pay the Immigration Skills Charge for a Tier 2 migrant worker.

Smaller businesses or charitable organisations will be required to pay £364 for any period of employment up to 12 months, followed by £182 for each subsequent 6 month period stated on the CoS. This is known as the ‘small charge’. A small or charitable sponsor is defined in Regulation 2 of the Immigration Skills Charge Regulations as:

  • a company subject to the small companies regime under section 381 of the Companies Act 2006(4);
  • a charity within the meaning of section 1 of the Charities Act 2011(5), or section 1 of the Charities Act (Northern Ireland) 2008(6), or a body entered in the Scottish Charity Register (7); or
  • a person who employs no more than 50 employees.

All other sponsors who do not fit into the definition of a small business or charitable organisations will be required to pay £1000 for any period of employment up to 12 months, followed by £500 for each subsequent 6 month period stated on the CoS. This is known as the ‘large charge’.

Are there any exemptions to the Immigration Skills Charge?

You do not have to pay the Immigration Skills Charge if you are sponsoring:

  • A Tier 2 (ICT) Graduate Trainee worker;
  • A Tier 5 Student switching to Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (ICT) Long Term Staff;
  • A worker under any other Tier 2 category of Tier 5 (Temporary Worker) subcategories;
  • A worker who you previously assigned a CoS where you assign them a new CoS to work for you in a different SOC Code and the new period of leave will not exceed their current period of leave;
  • A worker who is applying for entry clearance for a period of less than 6 months;
  • A worker to do a specified PhD-level occupation listed in Table 1 of Appendix J to the Immigration Rules;
  • A Croatian national.

The Immigration Skills Charge applies to the workers alone and no additional charge is required for the worker’s dependants, i.e. their partner or children.

What will happen if I don’t pay the Immigration Skills Charge?

You will be contacted by UK Visas and Immigration if you have not paid the Immigration Skills Charge when you assign the CoS. The CoS will become and remain invalid until the ISC is paid in full. It would also lead to a delay in any application made on the basis of the CoS until the charge has been fully paid.

If the Immigration Skills Charge is not paid in full within 10 working days of the first reminder to make the full payment the worker’s application will be refused.

Can the Immigration Skills Charge be refunded?

The Immigration Skills Charge can be refunded in part or full. If refunded, the amount will be paid back to the credit or debit card the charge was paid with.

You will receive a full refund where the worker’s application is refused, withdrawn or granted but the worker does not travel to the UK or start work for the sponsor.

You will receive a partial refund if the worker changes employers after working for you, terminates their employment contract before the end date stated on the CoS or is issued a visa for a shorter period of time than you applied to sponsor them. You will also receive a partial refund where you have assigned a CoS to a worker, paid the large sum but before you assign the CoS your company is verified as a small or charitable business. There are also circumstances in which you can receive a partial refund for unused 6 month periods of leave after the worker’s first year of employment. Refer to the Tier 2 and 5: Guidance for Sponsors, version 03/19 for circumstances in which you will receive a partial refund of the ISC.