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Immigration Skills Charge - Are you prepared yet?

Immigration skills charge
on Mon 10 Apr

 

Immigration Skills Charge

Under the Immigration Skills Charge Regulations 2017, Employers may be required to pay the Immigration Skills Charge each time they sponsor a worker from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. The skills charge applies to any Tier 2 worker assigned a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) on or after the 6 April 2017 under the ‘General’ or ‘Intra-Company Transfer’ routes.

The amount “skills charge” payable depends on the size of the employers’ organisation and the length of sponsored employment stated on the workers certificate of sponsorship. The skills charge for large organisations is £1,000 per person, per year. If your business has charitable status or is classified as being a small company, you will be eligible to pay the ‘small’ skills charge fee of £364 per person per year.

The charge is payable at the same time that you pay to assign a certificate of sponsorship to sponsor someone to do a skilled job in the UK. The Immigration Skills Charge must not be passed on to the worker. The money collected will be used to address skills gaps in the UK workforce.

When you need to pay

When sponsoring workers who apply for entry clearance from outside the UK, you will have to pay if:

  • the worker is non EU national or Switzerland national
  • Sponsorship is for 6 months or more

Workers who need to make immigration applications from within the UK, their employer will have to pay if:

  • the worker is non EU national or Switzerland national
  • the worker is making an immigration application for any length of time, including applications for less than 6 months

When you don’t have to pay

Employers don’t need to pay the charge if they are sponsoring:

  • Sponsored workers applying for a visa (outside the UK) for less than 6 months
  • Sponsored workers, sponsored under Tier 2 before 6 April 2017 and are applying from inside the UK to extend their Tier 2 stay with the same or a different sponsor
  • Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Graduate Trainee
  • Tier 4 student visa holder in the UK switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa
  • Sponsored worker doing a specified PhD level occupation listed in Table 1 of Appendix J of the Immigration Rules

Dependants

Employers do not have to pay the skills charge for their sponsored worker’s family members, who are not themselves migrant workers under Tier 2 (General) or (Intra-Company Transfer) routes.

Penalties & Consequences of non-payment of the skills charge

Any CoS assigned which requires the skills charge be paid will become and remain invalid until all outstanding charge is paid in full. This means any application for entry clearance or leave to remain made on the basis of a certificate of sponsorship being assigned to a worker will be either delayed until the charge is paid in full or refused if the charge is not paid in full upon formal request for payment within 10 working days.

Refund of part or all of the charge

The UKVI may refund part or all of the charge. In circumstances such as partial refund in respect of any whole unused 6 month periods of leave except where a worker leaves their post during the first year of employment with a sponsor in which case no refund will be given.

A partial refund will be paid where:

A Sponsored workers visa is granted for less than the period requested on the CoS - for example, if a 5 year visa was applied for, but a 3 year visa is granted, the balance (£2,000 or £728 for a small employer or a charity) would be refunded

A worker starts work for one Tier 2 sponsor, but then voluntarily changes to another sponsor - the first sponsor will be paid the difference between the ISC paid and the ISC payable for the length of time the Tier 2 worker has worked for the first sponsor

A worker leaves their post early – this could be if they return home due to ill health, are made redundant or dismissed, fail their probation or fail to secure a necessary professional qualification

Full refund will be paid where:

  • Sponsored worker is refused a visa
  • Sponsored worker withdraws their visa application
  • Sponsored worker is granted a visa but does not travel to the UK or starts period of employment

Refunds are also applicable under the following circumstances:

  • Sponsor gives notice within 90 days on the sponsor management system that their sponsored worker hasn’t come to the UK to start work
  • Sponsor gives notice within 90 days after the certificate of sponsorship expiry date if no valid visa application is made by the sponsored worker
  • within 90 days after the deadline date for making an administrative review application and no application for administrative review has been made
  • within 90 days of the worker’s administrative review being dismissed

Employers can contract UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) when their refund has been outstanding for 90 days. Immigration Skills Charge refunds will automatically be paid back to the debit or credit card previously used to pay with.

No refund will be paid where:

  • Sponsored worker changes job but remains working with the same employer
  • Sponsored worker switches from Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) i.e. Long-term Staff visa to another visa route but remains employed in the same job

Sponsored workers leave to remain/entry is curtailed due to a breach of the conditions of their leave, either through the sponsored workers  own actions or those of their sponsor

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