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With the British economy expected to rebound strongly in 2022 and 2023, more and more businesses are moving to apply for a sponsor license to enable them to employ overseas staff. In addition, with the UK’s departure from the EU now complete, businesses that were able to rely on freedom of movement to employ skilled EU nationals without any paperwork or immigration concerns now need a sponsor license to recruit anyone from outside of the UK.

This article will explain the costs associated with sponsoring skilled workers from overseas.

The Cost Of Sponsor License Application

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All businesses in the UK, whether public or private entities, must apply for and secure a sponsor license before recruiting overseas nationals. The application fees vary depending on the size and type of business and the license being applied for.

Your business will be classed as a small sponsor if it has (two of these must apply):

  • An annual turnover of £10.2 million or less
  • Total assets worth £5.1 million or less, or
  • 50 employees or fewer

Your business will be classed as a charitable sponsor if it is:

  • A registered charity in England or Wales
  • A registered charity in Scotland
  • A registered charity in Northern Ireland – if you’re not on the register, you must provide proof of your charitable status for tax purposes from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • An excepted charity
  • An exempt charity
  • An ecclesiastical corporation established for charitable purposes

A UK sponsor license is valid for four years, after which you can renew if you still meet the eligibility criteria (the renewal application fee is the same as for a new one).

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Certificate Of The Sponsorship Fee

Each time you issue a new Certificate of Sponsorship (Cos), you will also need to pay a certificate fee as follows:

CoS Fee

  • Worker (except workers on the International Sportsperson visa)

£199

  • Temporary Worker

£21

  • International Sportsperson – where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for more than 12 months

£199

  • International Sportsperson – where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for 12 months or less

£21

There is no charge, however, if the worker is from one of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.

Immigration Healthcare Surcharge

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The immigration healthcare surcharge is also paid when submitting a work visa application. It covers the cost of any healthcare provided by the National Health Service (NHS) while the worker is in the UK. Likewise, this is usually paid by the foreign worker, but some employers may elect to reimburse this cost.

The immigration healthcare surcharge is £624 per year per person (£470 for children) and is payable to the primary visa applicant and each dependent.

For some visas, including the Health and Care Worker visa, the immigration healthcare surcharge is not required.

Premium Service Fee

Depending on the location of the foreign worker, it may be possible to pay an additional fee to have their visa processed faster than the standard processing time. The priority service is an additional £500 and provides a decision within five working days. The super-priority service costs an additional £800 and provides a visa decision by the end of the next working day. The visa applicant pays this, but some employers may choose to cover this cost.

Biometric Fee

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A biometric fee of £19.20 is payable for each work visa applicant – this covers the cost of having their fingerprints scanned and a photo taken for a biometric residence permit. The visa applicant pays this, but some employers may choose to cover this cost.

Which Costs Must Be Paid By The Employer?

The employer must pay the following costs:

  • Sponsor license application fee (and renewal fee)
  • Immigration Skills Charge
  • Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) fee
  • Premium customer service scheme
  • Any other costs associated with sponsorship (including staffing and systems)