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What is the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) and how much do you have to pay?

The Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) is a levy on companies who sponsor migrant workers. This levy was imposed on 6 April 2017. The Government states that the charge has been levied to contribute towards addressing the skills gap in the local economy.

When do you have to pay?

If the migrant worker is not exempt from this charge, the sponsor must pay this charge at the time they assign the Certificate of Sponsorship. Therefore, it is important that the sponsor selects the correct sub-category when assigning the CoS.

The final payable amount will include the ISC amount.

You cannot pass this charge on to the migrant worker. If the UKVI find out that you have passed the charge on to the migrant worker, they may revoke your sponsor licence.

How much is the ISC?

There are two tiers to the ISC, the lower charge of £364 per year is applicable to small or charitable organisations. Medium and large companies must pay £1000 per year.

The total amount is calculated by an including an initial 12-month period, followed by 6-month increments, based on the duration of leave requested. For a visa which is less than 6-months in duration, no ISC is applicable.

For example, this means for a 3-year CoS, assigned by a small company, the total payable amount is likely to be (£199 + £364 x 3 = £1291), £199 being the CoS assignment fee.

What happens if you do not pay?

If you do not pay the ISC, the UKVI may not process your application, and it can result in a refusal. However, in most cases, you may be contacted by them to pay this charge before the application is processed.

What are the exemptions?

The charge does not have a retrospective effect. This means those sponsored prior to this date, can extend their visas, without their sponsoring companies having to pay this charge.

Migrant workers switching from a UK student visa route to Skilled Worker are exempt from the ISC requirement. In addition, from the 1st January 2023, EU nationals being transferred to the UK (with a Certificate of Sponsorship assigned on or after 01 January 2023) from a linked EU entity for a maximum of 3 years under the GBM: Senior/Specialist Worker, are not subject to the ISC payment.

The ISC is only applicable for migrant workers and does not apply to their dependants.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

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+44 118 960 4605

The Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) is a levy on companies who sponsor migrant workers.

Skilled Worker skill level

A job being sponsored under the Skilled Worker route must normally be skilled to at least Level 3 (equivalent to A levels) of the UK’s Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), and whilst the worker being sponsored as a Skilled Worker does not necessarily need to have been awarded with a RQF Level 3 qualification, the worker must have the necessary knowledge and skills required of RQF Level 3.

The Home Office has added a paragraph to the relevant guidance stipulating that compliance action will be taken against sponsors who provide false or misleading information about the skill level of a job.

Change of employment

Sponsored Skilled Workers who move to a different UK sponsor or who change jobs to a role which falls within a different occupation code (but stay with the same sponsor) must be assigned a new CoS and are required to submit a Skilled Worker Change of Employment visa application. The Home Office has now confirmed in their guidance that a right to work check must be carried out prior to a sponsored worker starting their new job, even if this new job is with the same sponsor. This essentially means that for Skilled Workers who are not changing sponsors and who are moving to a new job within their current organisation, they cannot start their new role until they have received their new Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) as this document is required for the online right to work check.

Change is the norm in UK immigration law, and the above information does not cover all the changes we expect to see in 2023. Please get in touch with our UK immigration team to discuss any of your business or private immigration concerns or queries.

About this article

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

View profile

+44 118 960 4605

About this article

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