This morning, surprising news came in the form of an addendum on the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) by the Home Office.
As of 6th April 2017, the Immigration Skills Charge will need to be paid for at the same time as the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) payment. Once implemented, the skills charge will apply to all Tier 2 sponsors sponsoring non-EEA employees under both the Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) and Tier 2 (General) sub-categories. Please note there will be exemptions, including those who are in the UK prior to April 6th, Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) graduate trainees, workers with a specific PhD level occupation and Tier 4 student visa holders in the UK switching to Tier 2 (General).
This will come as a shock to many sponsors who were previously able to buy time in relation to paying additional Home Office fees after issuing the CoS. As of April 2017, sponsors could end up paying thousands of pounds from the outset of the application process. For example, if an employee is sponsoring a Tier 2 worker for 3 years, once the CoS is completed the sponsor will need to pay £199 plus the Immigration Skills Charge for 3 years which is £3000 (£1000 per year), making a grand total of £3199. These costs do not include the additional Immigration Health Surcharge as well as the application fee itself.
Migrate UK’s advice to current sponsors would be to get you applications in early before the cut-off date to save thousands of pounds and plan for these changes.
It can be argued that these extra charges are a government attempt to reduce net migration figures, however, with a skills shortage in sectors such as healthcare and IT, it will be interesting to see what approach the government takes towards balancing net-migration and a skills gap.