Employees recruited into PhD-level occupations will not be subject to the Immigration Skills Charge. Meanwhile any students in the UK on a Tier 4 visa who are able to switch to a Tier 2 visa (General) under immigration rules are also exempt from the fee.
Initially, it was not disclosed by the Home Office as to whether those applying to extend their stay in Britain would be subject to the Immigration Skills Charge. However, the Government department has since updated its Tier 2 sponsorship guidance.
The updated changes specify that the charge will not apply to non-EEA nationals, sponsored via the Tier 2 immigration route before 6 April, 2017 and who apply from within the UK to extend their Tier 2 stay with either the same or a different sponsor.
The Home Office has confirmed that sponsors are required to pay the Immigration Skills Charge at the time of allocating a Tier 2 CoS and is payable in advance for the total period of time covered by the certificate of sponsorship.
More UK Visa changes
It’s understood that further changes from April 2017 will make the cost of sponsoring many overseas employees even more expensive. For instance, the minimum salary rate payable to ‘experienced workers’ within the Tier 2 (General) immigration category will be increased to £30,000 per annum.
Limited exemptions exist for this rule, which mainly apply to ‘public service occupations’ including medical radiographers; nurses; paramedics and secondary education teaching professionals in maths, physics, chemistry, computer science and Mandarin.
Immigration Skills Charge
As previously announced in March 2016, an Immigration Skills Charge of £1000 per skilled worker per year is being introduced for employers in the Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) routes. The charge is £364 for small and charitable sponsors.
There are exemptions for PhD-level occupations, Intra-company Transfer Graduate Trainees and those switching from Tier 4 to Tier 2 in the UK. Income raised from the charge will be used to address skills gaps in the workforce. The Government has announced that further guidance will be published on 6 April.