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In today’s globalized world, businesses often try to attract talented individuals from different parts of the world to stay competitive and come up with new ideas. For companies in the UK, it’s common and important to support migrants as Skilled Workers. Because European citizens not covered by the EU Settlement Scheme can no longer move and work freely in the UK, businesses have had to adjust, and supporting migrants as Skilled Workers has become a regular practice.

We frequently help small and startup businesses get permission to sponsor migrants. Any type of business, big or small, can apply for this as long as there’s a genuine need, a realistic understanding of costs, and the ability to afford them.

Sponsoring immigrants involves a significant financial commitment, considering the initial application and ongoing costs. This article will explain the fees based on the rates as on May 2024, for companies sponsoring migrants as Skilled Workers or Health and Care Workers in the UK.

Sponsor Licence Fees

The first thing you need to do to hire skilled workers from other countries in the UK is to get a Sponsor Licence from the Home Office. This licence is essential for any company looking to bring in international talent and is valid for four years.

As of January 2024, the fees for a Sponsorship Licence are as follows:

  • Small businesses and charities: £536
  • Medium or large businesses: £1,476

Small businesses are usually those that meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • Turnover of £10.2 million or less each year
  • Total assets worth £5.1 million or less
  • 50 employees or fewer

Charitable sponsors must be registered as charities in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, or be an excepted/exempt charity or an ecclesiastical corporation established for charitable purposes.

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) Fees

Once a company has successfully obtained a Sponsor Licence, they need to take the next step to sponsor a Skilled Worker by issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to each individual worker they plan to sponsor. As of January 2024, the fee for a CoS for Skilled Worker, T2 MOR, and GBM Senior or Specialist workers is £239 per CoS. This fee remains the same whether the CoS is a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship, intended for sponsoring a Skilled Worker applying for entry clearance to come to the UK, or an Undefined Certificate of Sponsorship, used for sponsoring a Skilled Worker applying for leave to remain within the UK.

It’s crucial to assign the correct type of CoS, which depends on the route the migrant is being sponsored under and where the application is made (from within the UK or for entry clearance). Assigning the wrong type of CoS not only wastes the fee but can result in a visa application rejection. Furthermore, the Home Office may perceive non-compliance with Sponsor duties, putting the sponsor licence at risk of suspension and revocation.

If a migrant’s job code changes, they may need an additional CoS to continue working for the same company. A Certificate of Sponsorship allows a worker to work under a specified job code for the sponsoring company. If a Skilled Worker’s responsibilities or role change, requiring re-sponsorship, the Authorising Officer must promptly identify this to avoid potential issues with visa applications and compliance with sponsor duties.

Immigration Skills Charge

The Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) is an expense that a UK company sponsoring a migrant must bear. As of January 2024, the ISC is set at:

  • £364 annually for small or charitable organizations
  • £1,000 per year for medium or large businesses

This charge is applicable to each individual migrant being sponsored, with some exceptions. For instance, students switching or Skilled Workers sponsored in certain job codes may not incur this fee.

Unlike most fees, where the company and migrant can decide who covers the cost, the ISC must be paid by the company.

If a sponsored migrant doesn’t work for the full duration of their Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), such as being sponsored for 5 years but working for only 2 years, it is possible to get a partial refund for the years not worked by the employee. ISC payments are also refunded in the event of a visa application refusal or withdrawal, or if the migrant does not come to work for the sponsoring company.

Priority fees

Companies have the option to use priority processing services for both the sponsor licence application and the request for new in-year Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) allocations within the UK.

For the sponsor licence application, the pre-licence priority service can significantly shorten processing times from the standard 8 weeks to within 10 working days. However, there is a fee associated with this priority service, amounting to £500 per request.

Visa application fees

The visa application fees change based on the duration of the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) – whether it’s less than or more than 3 years, and if the job is listed as in short supply.

As of January 2024, visa application fees per person are:

In – country applications CoS valid up to 3 years Cos valid up to 3+ years
Skilled Worker (and any dependants) £827 £1,636
Skilled Worker with Shortage Occupation CoS (and any dependants) £551 £1,084
Health and Care visa (and any dependants) £284 £551
Health and Care visa Shortage Occupation CoS (and any dependants) £284 £551
Entry clearance applications CoS valid up to 3 years Cos valid up to 3+ years
Skilled Worker (and any dependants) £719 £1,420
Skilled Worker with Shortage Occupation CoS (and any dependants) £551 £1,084
Health and Care visa (and any dependants) £284 £551
Health and Care visa Shortage Occupation CoS (and any dependants) £284 £551

The Skilled Worker can decide to use the regular processing for their immigration application or opt for faster processing by paying extra for priority services. The specific fees depend on where the application is submitted and the level of priority processing chosen.

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is a fee that migrants pay when applying for a visa lasting more than 6 months. As of January 2024, the IHS rates are:

  • £ 1,035 per year for most adult migrants
  • £ 776 a year for Youth Mobility Scheme applicants and students
  • £ 776 per year for children under 18

Does skilled worker require Resident Labour Market Test in 2024?

The Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) is a term that people frequently hear and assume that it will be relevant. However, since Tier 2 General was replaced by the Skilled Worker route, the RLMT is no longer applicable. This means companies don’t have to spend money on advertising and recruitment just because of immigration rules. The Home Office does require the businesses to fill genuine vacancies.

How Conroy Baker Ltd can help?

We understand that following and understanding immigration laws can be tough, and making sure you comply with all the rules and guidelines can be a challenge.

For professional guidance and support regarding any business immigration issue, reach out to our business immigration lawyers at on +44 203 773 2948 or [email protected]