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What is the Immigration Skills Charge and when is it payable?

Posted by: Gherson Immigration

If you hold a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence and you want to hire foreign workers, you may be liable to pay an Immigration Skills Charge.

What is the ISC?

If you are a company that hold a Skilled Worker Sponsor Licence and you are seeking to employ foreign workers for more than 6 months, you may be liable to pay an Immigration Skills Charge (“ISC”). The ISC was initially introduced in April 2017 to reduce employers’ reliance on migrant labour and to encourage UK companies to train and upskill the existing workforce in the UK. The charge aimed to address the domestic skills gap.

This charge is payable upon allocation of a Certificate of Sponsorship and is mandatory, except in certain limited circumstances.

It is important to note that the ISC is different to the Immigration Health Surcharge.

Who is required to pay the ISC?

As the sponsoring employer, you must incur the cost of the ISC. The charge cannot be paid on behalf of the company by the proposed employee. Failure to pay the ISC in the proper manner could lead to the revocation of your sponsor licence.

Who is exempt from paying the ISC?

What is the Immigration Skills Charge and when is it payable?There are certain circumstances in which you will not need to pay ISC. You will need to ensure that the correct information is entered on into the SMS system to avoid unnecessary charges and delays.

ISC will not be payable if you are sponsoring a migrant worker:

  • For less than 6 months
  • On an Intra-Company Graduate Trainee visa
  • On a Tier 5 Student visa who is switching to the Skilled Worker visa or Intra-Company Transfer visa
  • Who falls within certain specified SOC Codes, including chemical scientists, clergy, and sports players.

The charge is also not payable for any dependants, whether they are a partner or child.

If you have any queries about whether the migrant that you are sponsoring will be exempt from the ISC, please contact Gherson for more information:

How much does it cost?

The ISC is payable at the time that you allocate a Certificate of Sponsorship to the employee and the amount will be determined on the size of your organisation, as well as the length of employment on the Certificate of Sponsorship.


Small or charitable organisations

Medium or large organisations

First 12 months of employment



Each subsequent 6 months



If you have questions about the amount of ISC that you will be liable to pay, please contact us.

It is important to note that the full charge must be paid upfront. If you are sponsoring a migrant for more than 6 months but less than 12 months, you will still incur the charge for a full year.

What happens if I don’t pay the ISC?

Until the ISC is paid in full, the Certificate of Sponsorship will remain invalid. This will cause any immigration application pertaining to your new employee to be delayed until the charge is fully paid.

The employee’s visa application will be rejected if the ISC is not paid in full within 10 working days following a reminder from UKVI.

Can the ISC be refunded?

The ISC can be partially or completely refunded in certain circumstances. If the fee is reimbursed, the money will be returned to the credit or debit card used to make the purchase.

You may be eligible for a full refund if your employee’s visa application is denied, withdrawn, or allowed but they do not travel to the UK or begin employment for the sponsoring company.

If the sponsored migrant switches employers after working for your company, ends their employment contract before the end date mentioned on the Certificate of Sponsorship, or is granted a visa for a shorter period of time than you applied to sponsor them, you may receive a partial reimbursement of the ISC.

How Gherson can assist

Gherson has extensive experience in all aspects of UK immigration law. If you have any queries relating to the blogs published, or are interested in talking to us about your specific circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice, send us an e-mail, or alternatively, follow us on TwitterFacebook, 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.

©Gherson 2022


 Ines Yassa 

  Ines Yassa


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