UK visa sponsorship for employers

8. Immigration skills charge

You might have to pay an additional charge for each foreign worker you employ. This is called the ‘immigration skills charge’.

You must pay this if they’re applying for a visa to work in the UK for 6 months or more under either a:

  • Tier 2 (General) visa
  • Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) visa

If the worker has applied for their visa from within the UK, you must pay the charge even if they’re applying for less than 6 months.

When you don’t need to pay

You won’t pay the immigration skills charge if the worker you’re sponsoring:

You won’t need to pay the charge for any of the worker’s dependants, for example their partner or child.

How to pay

You pay the immigration skills charge when you assign a certificate of sponsorship to the worker.

How much it costs

The SMS will work out how much you need to pay based on:

  • the size of your organisation
  • how long the worker will work for you, using the start and end dates on their sponsorship certificate
Period Small or charitable sponsors Medium or large sponsors
First 12 months £364 £1,000
Each additional 6 months £182 £500

If the worker will be in the UK for longer than 6 months but less than a year, you must pay for at least 12 months.

You must pay the full charge in one go.

Contact the Business Helpdesk if you’re not sure which category your business fits into.

As the longest you can sponsor a worker for is 5 years, the most you have to pay will be:

  • £1,820 (5 x £364) if you’re a small or charitable sponsor
  • £5,000 (5 x £1,000) if you’re a medium or large sponsor

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will contact you if you don’t pay the charge or pay the wrong amount. You’ll have 10 working days to pay the charge - the worker’s visa application will be refused if you don’t.

Refunds

You’ll get a full refund if the worker’s visa application is:

  • refused or withdrawn
  • successful, but they don’t come to work for you

You’ll get a partial refund if the worker:

  • gets less time on their visa than you sponsored them for
  • starts working for you but then changes to another sponsor
  • leaves their job before the end date on their certificate of sponsorship

You’ll get your refund automatically through the SMS.

How long it takes

You usually get a refund within 90 days of:

  • telling UKVI that the worker didn’t come to work for you
  • the expiration date on the worker’s certificate of sponsorship, if they didn’t use it to apply for a visa
  • the date the worker’s visa application is refused or withdrawn

If the worker’s visa application is refused, they can ask for the decision to be reviewed. This is known as an ‘administrative review’.

If they don’t ask for an administrative review, you’ll get a refund within 90 days of the deadline for applying for one.

You’ll get a refund within 90 days of the administrative review being dismissed if the worker applied for one and were unsuccessful.

Contact UKVI if your refund isn’t paid within 90 days.