Introduction of the UK Immigration Skills Charge in April 2017

There are a number of UK immigration changes coming into effect in April 2017. One of these is the introduction of the UK Immigration Skills Charge, as well the annual UK Home Office fee increases. Where possible, we thus advise clients to apply for their UK visa or extension of the UK visa, before these changes and increase in UK Home Office fees take effect.

From 6 April 2017, companies sponsoring Tier 2 migrants will be levied an Immigration Skills Charge.The Skills Charge will apply to sponsors of Tier 2 employees assigned a certificate of sponsorship in the ‘General’ and ‘Intra-Company Transfer’ routes. The charge will be levied whether they are applying from outside the UK, inside the UK to switch to the Tier 2 route from another route, or inside the UK to extend their current visa.

The charge will be levied as an upfront charge of £1,000 per Tier 2 employee per year, for the total period of time covered by the certificate of sponsorship.

Sponsoring employers will thus be expected to pay the charge at the same time that they assign the certificate of sponsorship to the non-EU national. The skills charge will not be charged for the Tier 2 worker’s family members (‘dependants’).

Small businesses and charity sponsors will get relief in the form of a reduced rate of £364 per year. The Home Office considers a sponsor as a small business if their annual turnover is £10.2 million or less, and if the sponsoring company have 50 or fewer employees.
According to the UK Home Office, the money collected will be utilised by the UK Department of Education to address skills gaps in the UK workforce.

Fortunately, there are some exemptions to the Immigration Skills Charge which include;

  • Non-EEA-nationals who was sponsored on Tier 2 before April 2017, and is applying from inside the UK to extend their Tier 2 Visa with the same or different sponsor;
  • Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Graduate Trainees;
  • Foreign nationals doing specified Ph.D. level occupations; and
  • Applicants who are changing their status from a Tier 4 Student to a Tier 2 General Visa.

Please note that there might still be changes to the proposed UK Immigration Skills Charge.