- Cost of sponsoring a worker
- Case study
This week we finally got to see more detail about the 2021 points based immigration system.
A UK Visa Sponsorship for Employers is the authorization empowering UK employers with the right to assign Certificate of Sponsorship for foreign nationals that come to the UK under a work visa. adinserter block=”8″ A Sponsorship letter for UK visa is very similar to an invitation letter for UK visa. The main difference between them is that the sponsorship letter contains a declaration that the host will be handling some or all of the expenses of the guest. Apply for Visa sponsorship jobs. Explore all 356.000+ current Jobs in United Kingdom and abroad. Full-time, temporary, and part-time jobs. Competitive salary. Job email alerts. Visa sponsorship jobs is easy to find. Start your new career right now! Overview You’ll usually need a sponsor licence to employ someone to work for you from outside the UK. This includes citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland who.
The government’s announcement confirms that every organisation in the UK — from businesses to charities, schools to local shops — will need to become an “approved sponsor” to employ EU citizens who are new to the UK from 2021.
Hiring European workers will cost money
There’s a lot of detail missing at this stage – not surprising given the size of the task ahead — and we should see more when the Immigration Bill is published shortly.
Among the omissions in the relatively brief announcement was any detail on how much it will cost employers to become an approved sponsor and go through the process of sponsoring someone for a work visa.
Being an approved sponsor is already necessary to hire non-EU citizens, or at any rate, those who do not already have permission to work via another type of visa.
But for employers who are new to the system, a short explanation about the potential costs of sponsoring migrant workers would have been helpful.
Yesterday the government released data showing no changes planned to UK immigration and sponsorship fees for 2020/21. They are nevertheless notoriously high, both in absolute terms and compared to similar countries (the chart below is from the Institute for Government think tank).
I’ve set out below the basic costs involved in sponsoring someone under the current work visa system, known as “Tier 2”.
Some of the fees are levied directly on the employer, while others fall on the worker. Many employers cover all immigration fees — otherwise the worker has to pay potentially thousands of pounds out of their own pocket.
Subject to the final design of the new system, it looks as though employers sponsoring newly arrived Europeans from 2021 (who do not have any other visa that allows work) can expect to pay fees at this level.
Cost of a sponsor licence
Right now, when an organisation applies for a sponsor licence, the Home Office charges either:
- £536 if the organisation is a charity or defined as a small entity; or
- £1,476 for medium or large sponsors.
Page 10 of the Home Office guidance on sponsor licence applications shows how size and charitable status is determined. In general, the definitions in Chapter 1 of the Companies Act 2006 are used to determine size.
If the application is granted, the organisation gets a licence to sponsor migrant workers valid for four years. A further fee at the same level is paid when it’s renewed.
Cost of sponsoring a worker
For every worker who needs to be sponsored under Tier 2 (General) — that’s the main work visa route — I’ve set out the costs below. There are some exceptions to some of the fees (for example, those who are switching, Tier 4 students, etc.) but these are the main ones that will apply to most workers.
Certificate of sponsorship
A certificate of sponsorship, or CoS, is issued by approved sponsors to workers they wish to hire. The worker then uses the CoS to apply for their Tier 2 visa.
The cost of issuing each certificate of sponsorship is £199.
Immigration Skills Charge
This is essentially a tax levied on businesses for employing foreign workers.
For a small or charitable sponsor, the Immigration Skills Charge is £364 for the first year and £182 for each additional six months. So the cost of sponsoring someone for five years would be £1,820.
For a medium or large sponsor, the charge is £1,000 for the first year and £500 for each additional six months. The cost of sponsoring someone for five years would be £5,000.
Visa application fee
Someone applying from outside the UK for a work visa right now is charged an application fee:
- visa up to three years in a non-shortage occupation: £610
- visa up to three years in a shortage occupation: £464
- visa for more than three years in non-shortage occupation: £1,220
- visa for more than years in a shortage occupation: £928
The exact fee can vary based on a range of factors; full details are here.
Immigration Health Surcharge
The Immigration Health Surcharge is on top of the application fee outlined above. It is £400 for each year of leave. So the Immigration Health Surcharge adds £2,000 to the cost of a five-year visa, £1,200 to a three-year visa and £400 for a one-year visa.
Like the application fee, it is nominally down to the worker to pay.
There is also a whole range of potential administration fees for things like faster visa processing, being able to keep your passport throughout the process, having a courier drop it off to you, being able to sit in a fancy lounge whilst waiting for the visa to be processed etc. Many of these won’t apply to EU citizens as they will be applying for an e-visa.
The Home Office also operates a premium service for sponsors. For a fee of £25,000 per year for a medium/large business, or £8,000 for a small business, a range of extras is promised — you can read about these here.
This is just for the worker alone — family members accompanying them to the UK also have to pay for their visas.
Before sponsorship goes ahead, I would always urge employers to check with the individual whether they have family and to reach an agreement at the onset on who will bear relevant costs.
The sponsor can, for example, agree that the worker will pay their own application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge. Note that sponsors cannot lawfully pass the Immigration Skill Charge on to individuals. The licence fee is also paid by the sponsor.
Ben runs a small mail order business with lots of clients in Japan. He needs to sponsor a Japanese speaker to oversee the growth of sales to that country.
Ben eventually interviews Aki who is perfect for the role (and meets the requirements). They agree that he’ll sponsor Aki for five years. The cost will be:
- Sponsor licence : £536
- Certificate of sponsorship: £199
- Immigration Skills Charge: £1,820
- Immigration Health Surcharge: £2,000
- Application fee: £1,200
Total = £5,755.
Ben decides that a recruitment agent’s fee to find someone in the UK with the necessary skills would be around the same amount, so the cost is just about viable.
Worker with family
Aki calls Ben a couple of days later and explains that, in addition to paying for the costs of sponsoring her, she can only accept the offer if Ben also pays for visas for her husband and daughter.
That would be an extra £6,400. This represents the visa application fee plus Immigration Health Surcharge, which are the same for family members as they are for the sponsored worker.
That brings the total to £12,155. Ben just can’t afford that, so sponsorship of Aki can’t proceed.
The UK Tier 2 visa is for workers who are offered a job in the UK and therefore have an employer who will act as a sponsor for their visa application. How to get sponsorship in the UK is through a job offer for a position categorised as a ‘shortage occupation’ and the employer completing a ‘resident labour market test’ to prove that the job can't be filled by a resident worker.
The Tier 2 visa has four sub-categories:
- General — for those filling a gap in the workforce
- Minister of Religion — for those to be employed in a faith community
- Sportsperson — for those employed at a high level in sports
- Intra Company Transfer — for those being transferred overseas by their current employer
While you are in the UK on a Tier 2 visa, you are only permitted to work for the employer who sponsored your visa application. If you leave the job for which you were sponsored, then you have to find another employer to sponsor you or leave the UK.
Quick Links and FAQs
Is the Tier 2 sponsorship visa the right one for me?
Unless you are offered a job in a shortage occupation, it is not easy to find a sponsor for a Tier 2 visa from outside the UK. If you are not in a shortage occupation and wish to apply for a visa from outside the UK, then Tier 1 (general) or Tier 5 (Youth Mobility) could be better options for you. In certain industries, a recruitment agency may be able to help you find a sponsor. A UK visa through sponsorship is also a common route for working holiday makers who wish to continue working for their current UK employer when their Tier 5 working holiday visa expires. Gaining sponsorship with a UK employer is generally easier when you are already in the UK mainly because they can meet with you in person.
Do you qualify for the Tier 2 visa?
Tier 2 (general) is points-based. You must score 70 points to qualify for UK sponsorship, including:
- 50 points for Attributes (30 for being assigned a certificate of sponsorship and 20 for being paid the appropriate salary)
- 10 points for English language skills
- 10 points for having enough funds in the bank (£800 for 90 days) or if your sponsor is ‘A rated’
You must also be over 16 years old, and cannot be a national of the European Economic Area or Switzerland.
Your sponsorship certificate
The sponsorship certificate is the responsibility of your sponsoring employer in the UK. It isn't actually a paper certificate, but a digital certificate from which your employer will provide you with a reference number and other information such as the agreed upon wage.
Your sponsor will need to be registered as a licensed sponsor with the UK Border Agency and apply for a certificate of sponsorship for you. The certificate will act as an assurance that you intend to undertake a particular job. There is more information for sponsors on the UK Border Agency website.
Make sure you have made a final decision on intending to work for a potential employer before giving your personal information to them. Only one sponsor can assign a certificate to you, and once a sponsorship certificate is arranged you cannot be sponsored by any other employer for the period noted on the certificate.
If you get a sponsorship certificate, it does not guarantee that you will secure a Tier 2 visa. You must meet all the other requirements for this visa.
If you are qualified for an occupation that is listed on the Skills Shortage List you will automatically receive 30 points for the Attributes section of the Tier 2 visa application. You will still need a sponsorship certificate that shows you will be paid the appropriate wage. The Skills Shortage List includes specific job titles and currently includes certain engineering positions, medical practitioner positions, teaching positions, social worker positions and chef positions. You can view the current list on the UK Border Agency website here. There is a separate Skills Shortage List for Scotland.
English language skills and maintenance funds
As with other UK visas, when you apply you will have to prove your English language skills and show that you have enough money to support yourself when you arrive. To be awarded points for English language skills, you must either pass an English test approved by the Border Agency, come from a majority English-speaking country, or hold an undergraduate degree that was taught in English. When you apply for a Tier 2 visa, you will also have to show that you have £800 in personal savings (called ‘maintenance funds’) and that you have held these funds for a period of three months. The evidence you provide (such as original personal bank statements) must be dated no earlier than one month before the date of your application.
What happens if my sponsorship certificate becomes invalid?
Your sponsor is obligated to tell UK immigration if they no longer employ you or if there is a significant change in your job or salary. These circumstances may mean that your sponsored visa is not valid and you will no longer have permission to work in the UK.
If you have been approved for a Tier 2 visa, you can apply to change employment, either within the same organisation or with a new organisation. The application will be treated as a new application and a new sponsorship certificate will be required from another licensed sponsor. However, having been sponsored already will give you and your new employer confidence that approval is very likely.
UK Jobs / Working In The UK / Work Visas / Tier 2 - Sponsored Skilled Visa