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Skilled Worker Route Sponsorship Costs for UK Companies

Published 12 April 2024

In our increasingly interconnected world, businesses frequently look to attract talent globally to maintain their competitiveness and foster innovation. For UK-based companies, sponsoring skilled workers has become a common and crucial practice, especially as EEA citizens not covered by the EU Settlement Scheme no longer possess automatic rights to work in the UK. This shift in the UK job market has made sponsoring skilled workers a standard procedure.

We routinely aid startups and small businesses in obtaining sponsor licenses, emphasizing that any business, provided they meet the requirements and understand the associated costs, can consider making an application.

Immigration sponsorship comes with substantial financial commitments, encompassing initial application costs and ongoing expenses. This article will outline these costs, referring to the rates effective from October 5, 2023, for companies sponsoring skilled workers or health and care workers in the UK.

Sponsor Licence Fees

The first step in sponsoring skilled workers in the UK involves applying for a Sponsor Licence from the Home Office, a mandatory requirement for any company seeking to hire foreign talent. This license is valid for four years. As of October 2023, the fees for a Sponsorship Licence are as follows:

  • Small businesses and charities: £536
  • Medium or large businesses: £1,476

To be classed as a Small business you must meet at least two of the following criteria:

  • Annual turnover of £10.2 million or less
  • Total assets of £5.1 million or less
  • 50 employees or fewer

Charitable sponsors must be registered as charities in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, or qualify as an excepted/exempt charity or ecclesiastical corporation established for charitable purposes.

Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) Fees

After securing a Sponsor Licence, a company must issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to each sponsored worker. Currently, the CoS fee is £239 per CoS, irrespective of whether it’s a Defined Certificate of Sponsorship for entry clearance or an Undefined Certificate of Sponsorship for leave to remain in the UK.

Accurate CoS assignment is crucial to avoid wastage of fees and potential visa application refusals. Assigning an incorrect type of CoS can lead to visa application refusals, jeopardize compliance with sponsor duties, and risk suspension or revocation of the sponsor license. If a skilled worker’s job code changes, they may require an additional CoS to continue working for the same company.

Immigration Skills Charge (ISC)

The ISC is an expense borne by sponsoring UK companies, with the following rates:

  • £364 per year for small or charitable organizations
  • £1,000 per year for medium or large businesses

Exceptions exist, such as students switching or certain job codes for skilled workers, which may not incur this fee. Unlike most fees, the ISC must be paid by the company.

Partial refunds are possible if a sponsored migrant doesn’t work for the full CoS duration, experiences visa application issues, or doesn’t come to work for the sponsoring company.

Priority Fees

Companies can opt for priority processing fees for sponsor licence applications or in-year CoS allocations within the UK. The pre-licence priority sponsor licence service can reduce processing times to within 10 working days for a fee of £500 per request.


After you get your sponsor license more fees are incurred, these can be paid by the company or the applicant.

Visa Application Fees

Visa application fees vary based on CoS duration and job category, whether it’s on the shortage occupation list or not. Current application fees per person are as follows:

(For applications within the UK)

  • Skilled Worker: £827 (up to 3 years) / £1,500 (3+ years)
  • Skilled Worker with Shortage Occupation CoS: £551 (up to 3 years) / £1,084 (3+ years)
  • Health and Care visa: £284 (up to 3 years) / £551 (3+ years)
  • Health and Care visa Shortage Occupation CoS: £284 (up to 3 years) / £551 (3+ years)

(For entry clearance applications)

  • Skilled Worker: £719 (up to 3 years) / £1,420 (3+ years)
  • Skilled Worker with Shortage Occupation CoS: £551 (up to 3 years) / £1,084 (3+ years)
  • Health and Care visa: £284 (up to 3 years) / £551 (3+ years)
  • Health and Care visa Shortage Occupation CoS: £284 (up to 3 years) / £551 (3+ years)

Skilled workers can choose standard processing or opt for priority services at additional costs, depending on application location and level of priority.

Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)

Migrants applying for visas exceeding 6 months incur the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee. While these fees may increase soon, as of today, they stand at:

  • Most adult migrants: £624 per year
  • Students and those on the Youth Mobility Scheme: £470 per year
  • Children under 18: £470 per year

The £624 charge for adults is expected to rise to £1,035 with the announced increase.

Legal and Compliance Costs

Navigating immigration law and ensuring compliance with rules and guidance can be intricate. Many companies choose to seek legal advice and assistance, with costs varying based on case complexity and the number of sponsored skilled workers.

For expert guidance on business immigration matters, please don’t hesitate to contact Dan or Tess today on 0141 339 7373 or complete our enquiry form.

Don’t navigate the complexities of immigration alone. Let our specialists guide you towards a successful outcome.

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