Key consideration for Employers regarding UK visa fee increases

02 Oct 2023, 17 mins ago

From 4 October 2023, there will be a rise in UK immigration application fees, as announced earlier this year. These increases will affect a wide range of immigration routes to the UK, including applications under work and nationality routes. 

Many of the UK visa application fees and sponsorship fees are set to increase by 15 to 20 percent following the announcement on 15 September 2023. Whilst the announcement confirms when and which fees are set to increase, the government is yet to announce when the increases to the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will take effect. It is expected that the IHS will increase from £624 to £1,035 per person per year for most main applicants from autumn this year.

The published fee increases that will affect you as a sponsor/employer from 4 October 2023 for the most commonly used work and nationality routes are:

Applications made outside the UK:

Skilled Worker and GBM (Senior or Specialist Worker) Visa application fees (up to 3 years): £719 (previously £625)

Skilled Worker and GBM (Senior or Specialist Worker) Visa application fees (over 3 years): £1,420 (previously £1,235)

Optional Priority service (non-settlement): £500 (previously £250)

Optional Super Priority Service: £1,000 (previously £956)

Applications made in the UK:

Skilled Worker and GBM (Senior or Specialist Worker) Visa application fees (up to 3 years): £827 (previously £719)

Skilled Worker and GBM (Senior or Specialist Worker) Visa application fees (over 3 years): £1,500 (previously £1,423)

Optional Priority service (non-settlement): £500 (no change, previously £500)

Optional Super Priority Service: £1,000 (previously £800)

Sponsorship:

Certificate of sponsorship fees – Skilled Worker, GBM (Senior or Specialist Worker) – £239

(previously £199)

Settlement and Nationality applications made in the UK:

Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR):  £2,885 (previously £2,404)

British citizenship by naturalisation: £1,500 (previously £1,250)

These are some of the highest fee increases that we have seen in the recent years. It is therefore important for you to consider the following key aspects of your business practices as an employer:

1. Cost and Budgeting:

As stated above, the new increased fees will begin to take effect from 4 October this year. As a sponsor that employs and recruits foreign nationals, this means an increase in fees across a range of immigration and nationality “routes” for those employees that are coming to the UK to live, work, and study. You should, therefore, in the first instance, assess the impact of the increase in fees on your recruitment, talent, and retention policies from the cost and budgeting perspectives. 

2. Expediting submissions:

As a matter of priority, it would be prudent for you to assess the impact on budgeting for the next financial year and plan your workforce’s visa submissions for entry clearance or permission to stay accordingly.  This would include, for example, considering whether the filing of immigration applications can be brought forward to take advantage of the current lower fees and revisiting any forward planning budget assessments to consider the upcoming increases in order to reduce the risk of under-budgeting.

3. Clawback Clauses:

As a sponsor/employer, if you are set to meet the visa application costs on behalf of your employees and their family, you may wish to consider entering appropriate clawback provisions with your staff, to cater for the possibility of them leaving their employment earlier than planned. Kindly note, however, that these clauses need to be in accordance with employment law and therefore would need to be advised on by a specialist employment lawyer. From a long-term strategic planning perspective, you may want to review the level of support you provide to your employees in terms of visa application fees while operating within budgeting constraints and business restructuring or expansion planning, as may be applicable. 

How Gherson can assist

Gherson’s Immigration Team are highly experienced in advising on UK visa matters. If you have any questions arising from this blog, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an e-mail, or, alternatively, follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or LinkedIn to stay-up-to-date.

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 do not 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.

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