The Immigration Skills Charge: Who Needs To Pay?

28 Feb 2020, 04 mins ago

The Immigration Skills Charge (“ISC”) was first introduced on 6 April 2017 to address the skills gaps in the UK workforce by deterring employers from hiring migrants under the Tier 2 visa routes. The aim of the Home Office was to reduce employers’ reliance on migrant labour and to encourage businesses into “training and upskilling the resident workforce” instead.

The ISC may have indeed discouraged some smaller companies from hiring migrants and may have been instrumental in the shift by UK businesses towards employing more settled workers. For larger companies, however, the fees may be inconsequential for the right person equipped with the specialist skills or experience which that business needs.

Who does it apply to?

The ISC is levied on sponsored Tier 2 workers under the General and Intra-Company Transfer categories, who are assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship

The ISC does not apply to all Tier 2 visas. It will not be payable in the following exempt categories: 

  • Tier 4 (General) students switching to a Tier 2 (General) visa;
  • Migrant workers already in the UK with a Tier 2 visa prior to 6 April 2017; 
  • Migrant workers fulfilling specific job roles under the PhD-level standard occupational classification;
  • Migrant workers coming to the UK to fulfil a role for less than 6 months.  

At what point is the ISC paid? 

A sponsor is liable to pay the ISC at the point that it assigns the Certificate of Sponsorship in connection with a prospective Tier 2 visa. The ISC fee is dependent on the size and type of the sponsor and the length of the migrant worker’s employment. 

What about EEA nationals?

Where EEA nationals were previously free from immigration control, they will also be subject to the same rules as non-settled workers as of 1 January 2021. This means that not only would EEA nationals require sponsorship, but their roles may also be liable to the ISC, which will create a further expense for sponsors to hire future migrants. 

The government are yet to confirm the prospective fees involved for applications relating to migrants as of 1 January 2021. If the fees that are currently in place continue or increase, this will have an impact on hiring migrants in the future and potentially the UK economy. 

Gherson has over 30 years’ experience in UK Visas and Immigration, in particular Corporate Immigration, and acts for a large number of corporate clients and individuals with respect to the Tier 2 General visa or Tier 2 ICT visa categories. Should you have any questions or queries relating to sponsor licences or Tier 2 visa guidance, please do not hesitate to contact us


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2020


Toska Fernandez 

  Toska Fernandez

  Paralegal in our General and Corporate Teams