Immigration skills charge

You might have to pay an additional charge when you assign a certificate of sponsorship to someone applying for a Skilled Worker or Intra-company Transfer visa. This is called the ‘immigration skills charge’.

You must pay the immigration skills charge if they’re applying for a visa from:

  • outside the UK to work in the UK for 6 months or more
  • inside the UK for any length of time

When you do not need to pay

You will not pay the immigration skills charge if you’re sponsoring someone:

  • on an Intra-company Graduate Trainee visa
  • who is on a visa to study in the UK, and switches to a Skilled Worker or Intra-company Transfer visa - if they then extend their stay on the new visa, you will not have to pay the charge

You will also not have to pay the charge if you’re sponsoring someone with one of the following occupation codes:

  • chemical scientists (2111)
  • biological scientists and biochemists (2112)
  • physical scientists (2113)
  • social and humanities scientists (2114)
  • natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified (2119)
  • research and development managers (2150)
  • higher education teaching professionals (2311)
  • clergy (2444)
  • sports players (3441)
  • sports coaches, instructors or officials (3442)

You also might not have to pay the charge if you’re sponsoring a worker who was assigned a certificate before 6 April 2017 - there’s more information in part 2 of the guidance for sponsors.

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

If the person you’re sponsoring changes jobs

If you’ve assigned a certificate of sponsorship to someone in your organisation, who then moves to a new job in your organisation, you’ll need to assign them a new certificate. They will use this to apply for a new visa.

You only need to do this if the new job has a different occupation code.

You’ll need to pay the immigration skills charge again if the end date on their new visa is later than the end date on their existing visa.

How to pay

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

How much it costs

The amount you need to pay is 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 do not 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 do not.

Refunds

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

  • refused or withdrawn
  • successful, but they do not 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 also get a partial refund if you paid the medium or large sponsor fee when assigning the certificate, but had already notified UKVI that you’re now a small or charitable sponsor.

How long it takes

You usually get a refund within 90 days of:

  • telling UKVI that the worker did not come to work for you
  • the expiration date on the worker’s certificate of sponsorship, if they did not use it to apply for a visa
  • the date the worker’s visa application is refused or withdrawn
  • the date you assigned the certificate of sponsorship, if you had already notified UKVI that you became a small or charitable sponsor

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 do not 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 is not paid within 90 days.