The recent Conservative manifesto has included a pledge to upsurge the Immigration Skills Charge, from £1,000 to £2,000 per year per employee by the end of the Parliament. Stated within their manifesto “skilled immigration should not be a way for government or business to avoid their obligations to improve the skills of the British workforce”.
Since 6 April 2017, British companies have been faced with paying the controversial Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) which was introduced by the Conservatives, as part of their pledge to control immigration. This charge has been introduced for Tier 2 (General and Intra Company Transfer) Visa holders. The charge needs to be paid by employers, at the point of issuing a certificate of sponsorship (COS) to skilled workers from outside of the EEA, through this route. As it stands, the charge is a flat rate of £1000 per person per year of the sponsorship, with some exceptions. Smaller businesses and charities will pay a reduced charge of £364 per employee a year. The charge is over and above fees already in place.
Such an increased charge will go towards training British workers. The levy is envisioned to cut employers’ reliance on imported labour, and enhance the skills of settled UK residents. An increased levy will significantly increase the costs of sponsoring Tier 2 workers in the next visa year. The BMA and RCN (Royal College of Nursing) previously wrote to the Home Secretary to raise serious concerns over the inclusion of NHS and health and social care organisations in the list of employers who will be liable to pay the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC). No doubt, such increased fees, will again, prove unpopular with businesses whom are dependent on non-EU labour, as did the initial introduction of the fee.
We suggest that employers consider their future visa needs from now, and where possible, recruit either in a manner where the levy/increased levy does not apply (i.e. recruiting tier 4 students and switching them to the tier 2 route) or search for alternative routes where their employees/prospective employees can work for them in the UK.