What is Immigration Skills Charge (ISC)

Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) is the mandatory fee sponsor employers are required to pay when hiring an employee from outside the UK on certain work visa categories. The Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) requirement came into force on 6 April 2017.

The ISC charge applies to workers sponsored in the UK under the Skilled Worker (previously known as Tier 2 (General)) and Global Business Mobility (GBM) (previously known as Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer (ICT) Long Term Staff / ICT) routes since 6 April 2017, and also to their subsequent skilled worker and GBM visa permission extensions either with a new or their current sponsor.

Home Office provides a summary information on the Immigration Skills Charge on their gov.uk website here. The relevant law is set out in Immigration Skills Charge Regulations 2017.

What is Immigration Skills Charge for UK work visa

Who pays the ISC and how much does it cost

The Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) has to be paid by a licensed sponsor/employer through their sponsor management system (SMS) account when they assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS).

The ISC amount due is dependent on the sponsor organisation size, charitable status and length of sponsorship (in 6 month increments). A minimum of 12 months is payable, this amount is non-refundable unless paid in error or the sponsored worker fails to take up post. The charge applies only to the main applicant in the Skilled Worker and GBM routes. It is not payable for their family members (dependants).

It is important to note that the charge cannot be passed by sponsor employer to the sponsored worker. If this happen and the Home Office finds out the sponsor licence may be revoked. The licence revocation will have significant negative implications for the sponsor organization.

What is the amount of Immigration Skills Charge payable by sponsor employer

The amount of the ISC charge payable by a small or charitable sponsor is the amount specified in column 2 of the Table which corresponds to the period of prospective employment in respect of which the certificate of sponsorship is assigned specified in column 1.

The amount of the charge payable by a sponsor other than a small or charitable sponsor is the amount specified in column 3 of the Table which corresponds to the period of prospective employment in respect of which the certificate of sponsorship is assigned specified in column 1.

Certificate of Sponsorship durationSmall/charityOther
12 months or less£364£1000
More than 12 months, but no more than 18 months£546£1500
More than 18 months, but no more than 24 months£728£2000
More than 24 months, but no more than 30 months£910£2500
More than 30 months, but no more than 36 months£1092£3000
More than 36 months, but no more than 42 months£1274£3500
More than 42 months, but no more than 48 months£1456£4000
More than 48 months, but no more than 54 months£1638£4500
More than 54 months, but no more than 60 months£1820£5000
Immigration Skills Charge cost to employer

What happens when ISC is not paid

 A CoS assigned without due ISC being paid is invalid until the requisite payment is made. UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) will contact the sponsor if the charge has not been paid when due or the incorrect amount has been paid, requiring a top-up payment. The top up payment is paid via a Worldpay pay by link sent to the sponsor, quoting the CoS reference number they have provided to their proposed sponsored worker. Failure to pay the correct amount within 10 days of a top up request may result in the Skilled Worker or GBM visa application being refused.

In instances when the ISC has been underpaid, for example the sponsor has been recorded as the wrong size organisation, a top up payment is required. If the additional amount is not paid on request the permission to stay or entry clearance (EC) application can be refused.

Who is exempt from paying the Immigration Skills Charge

Sponsors are not required to pay the ISC when sponsoring skilled workers if one of the below is applicable:

• under PhD occupation codes 2111, 2112, 2113, 2114, 2119, 2150, 2311, also 2444 (Clergy), 3441 (sports players) and 3442 (sports coaches, instructors and officials)

• to whom they assign Global Business Mobility: Senior or Specialist Worker CoS on or after 1 January 2023 when: o the worker is being sponsored as a Senior or Specialist Worker to work in the UK for up to 3 years o the worker is an EU national or a person who has a Latvian non-citizen passport o the worker currently works at one of the sponsor’s offices in the EU or for a linked business in the EU

• to whom they assign a further CoS which does not extend the date of their previous period of ISC liable permission, for example, if switching occupation code

• switching from study route, and also those that initially switched from study route and are now extending their permission to remain in the same role with the same sponsor

• who were granted Tier 2 permission using a CoS assigned prior to 6 April 2017 and have continued to hold skilled worker permission and undertake a skilled role since

• seeking entry clearance to the UK for less than 6 months

Immigration Skills Charge refund

Full ISC refund A full refund of the ISC paid will be owed if paid in error when not due or the:

• CoS assigned with it is not subsequently used to support an application for entry clearance or permission to stay and expires

• Skilled Worker or GBM application it supports is: o withdrawn o refused o successful but the worker does not subsequently take up the post

Partial ISC refund A partial refund of the ISC paid will be due if:

• the sponsor has overpaid, for example, in relation to their size, charitable status or because of assigning a further ISC liable CoS that overlaps, by more than 6 months, dates already paid by their worker’s current CoS

• the subsequent visa is granted for less time than the period requested on the CoS

• sponsorship subsequently ceases earlier than CoS stated due to worker leaving employment Refunds should be made within 90 days:

• of the sponsor notifying UKVI that the worker didn’t start work or has left employment early

• after the CoS expiry date if no valid visa application has been made

• after the deadline date for making an administrative review application and no application for administrative review has been made

• of the worker’s administrative review being dismissed

How long it takes to receive Immigration Skills Charge refund

You usually get a refund of Immigration Skills Charge within 90 days of:

  • telling UKVI that the worker did not come to work for you
  • the expiration date on the worker’s certificate of sponsorship, if they did not use it to apply for a visa
  • the date the worker’s visa application is refused or withdrawn
  • the date you assigned the certificate of sponsorship, if you had already notified UKVI that you became a small or charitable sponsor
  • If they do not ask for an administrative review, you’ll get a refund within 90 days of the deadline for applying for one.
  • You’ll get a refund within 90 days of the administrative review being dismissed if the worker applied for one and were unsuccessful.

Contact UKVI if your refund is not paid within 90 days.

When there is No ISC refund

No refund of the ISC paid will be due:

• in relation to the first year of sponsorship if, for example, the worker leaves employment early

• where the worker changes job or role but remains with same employer

• where a worker is sponsored for 12 months or less

• when a worker is reported as having moved to another immigration route but remains employed in the same role

• when a sponsor licence becomes dormant

• when compliance action has been taken resulting in the revocation of sponsor licence or leave curtailment.