Consequences of employing migrants illegally

All employers, not just licensed sponsors, must make sure that their employees are entitled to work for them. We will impose a range of penalties on those employing people illegally.

Compliance officers will refer cases of illegal working for prosecution or the issue of a civil penalty. If you are issued with a civil penalty for employing illegal workers your licence may be suspended and any new licence application may be refused. ‘Sanctions for illegally employing migrants’ has more information on the penalties imposed. We reserve the right to suspend your licence or remove your CoS allocation while any investigation is in process.

Sponsor License  Fee

There is a fee for:

  • initial applications for a sponsor licence
  •  applying to renew an existing sponsor licence
  •  applying to extend the scope of an existing licence
  •  assigning each certificate of sponsorship (CoS)

Full payment guidance is available on the ‘UK visa fees’ page on GOV.UK. The fee for a sponsor licence depends on the size of the organisation that is applying. If you have charitable status or you are subject to the small companies regime as set out in paragraphs 381- 384 of the Companies Act 2006 on GOV.UK you are eligible to pay the ‘small’ sponsor licence fee. This fee is for our consideration of your licence application and will not be refunded if we refuse your licence application.

Immigration Skills Charge

Under the Immigration Skills Charge Regulations 2017, you may be required to pay the Immigration Skills Charge each time you sponsor a worker from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

The skills charge applies to a Tier 2 worker assigned a certificate of sponsorship (CoS) on or after the 6 April 2017 in the ‘General’ or ‘IntraCompany Transfer’ routes. The amount of the skills charge payable depends on the size of your organisation and the length of employment stated on the workers certificate of sponsorship. The skills charge is £1,000 per person, per year. If you have charitable status or you are subject to the small companies regime as set out in paragraphs 381- 384 of the Companies Act 2006 on GOV.UK, you are eligible to pay the ‘small’ charge of £364 per person per year.

The amount of the charge payable by a sponsor is set out in the ‘Schedule’ in the Immigration Skills Charge Regulations 2017 available on the ‘Legislation’ page on GOV.UK.

The charge is payable at the same time that you pay to assign a certificate of sponsorship to sponsor someone to do a skilled job in the UK. The Immigration Skills Charge must not be passed on to the worker.

When you need to pay

For workers who need to make visa applications from outside the UK, you will have to pay if:

  •  the worker is a national of a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland
  •  the worker is applying for a visa to work in the UK for 6 months or more

For workers who need to make immigration applications from within the UK, you’ll have to pay if:

  •  the worker is a national of a country outside the EEA and Switzerland
  •  the worker is making an immigration application for any length of time, including applications for less than 6 months

The money collected will be used to address skills gaps in the UK workforce.

When you don’t have to pay

You do not need to pay the charge if you are sponsoring:

  • a worker who is applying for a visa (from outside the UK) for less than 6 months
  •  a worker who was sponsored in Tier 2 before 6 April 2017 and is applying from inside the UK to extend their Tier 2 stay with you or a different sponsor
  •  a Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) Graduate Trainee
  •  a Tier 4 student visa holder in the UK switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa
  •  a worker to do a specified PhD level occupation listed in Table 1 of Appendix J of the Immigration Rules

You do not have to pay the skills charge for the worker’s family members (‘dependants’) who are not themselves migrant workers in the Tier 2 (General) or (Intra-Company Transfer) routes.

Consequences of non-payment of the charge

Any CoS you have assigned which require that the charge be paid will become and remain invalid until the outstanding charge is paid in full. This means that any application for entry clearance or leave to remain made on the basis of the CoS will be delayed until the charge is paid in full and refused if the charge is not paid in full.

You will be contacted by UK Visas and Immigration if you have not paid the charge or have not paid the full amount when you assigned the certificate of sponsorship.

The worker’s visa or immigration application will be refused if you don’t pay the full amount within 10 working days of the first formal reminder to make the payment.

Refund of part or all of the charge

The Secretary of State may refund part or all of the charge.

A partial refund will be made in respect of all whole unused 6 month periods of leave except where a worker leaves their post during the first year of employment in which case no refund will be made.
A partial refund will be paid where:

  •  a workers visa is granted for less than the period requested on the CoS – for example, if a 5 year visa was applied for, but a 3 year visa is granted, the balance (£2,000 or £728 for a small employer or a charity) would be refunded
  •  the worker starts work for one Tier 2 sponsor, but then voluntarily changes to another sponsor – the first sponsor will be paid the difference between the ISC paid and the ISC payable for the length of time the Tier 2 worker has worked for the first sponsor
  •  the worker leaves their post early – this could be if they return home due toill health, are made redundant or dismissed, fail their probation or fail to
    secure a necessary professional qualification

A full refund will be paid where:

  •  a worker is refused a visa
  •  an application is withdrawn
  • the worker is granted a visa but does not travel to the UK or start work for the sponsor

Decisions on refunds are made:

  •  within 90 days of you notifying UKVI via the sponsor management system that the worker didn’t come to the UK to start work
  •  within 90 days after the certificate of sponsorship expiry date if no valid visa application is made by the worker
  •  within 90 days after the deadline date for making an administrative review application and no application for administrative review has been made
  •  within 90 days of the worker’s administrative review being dismissed

Contact UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) if your refund hasn’t been paid within 90 days.

An ISC refund will automatically be paid to the debit or credit card the charge was paid with.

No refund will be paid where:

  •  a worker changes job but remains working for the same employer
  • a worker changes (‘switches’) from a Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (IntraCompany Transfer) Long-term Staff visa to another visa but remains employed in the same job
  •  a workers leave is curtailed (shortened) due to a breach of the conditions of their leave, either through their own actions or those of their sponsor.