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UK based Employers

Skills charge

The UK government has introduced a new skills charge in a bid to encourage UK businesses to train British citizens to fill skilled roles and reduce the UK’s reliance on migrant labour. This has made hiring non-British citizens significantly more costly.

The new immigration skills charge: Important information for UK employers

The UK government is introducing a new skills charge in a bid to encourage businesses to train British citizens to fill skilled roles and reduce Britain’s reliance on migrant labour. The fee will come into effect on 6 April this year.

The nuts and bolts of the skills charge

The skills charge will be levied against employers hiring Tier 2 migrant employees under the general and intra-company transfer categories. Each new hire will cost £1,000 per year. Those sponsoring non-EU nationals to fill a vacancy for the full duration of a Tier 2 visa (normally five years) will therefore have to pay a total of £5,000 over to UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

Exceptions to the rule

There is relief for small businesses and charity sponsors in the form of a reduced rate of £364 per year. A sponsor will be allowed this relief where their annual turnover is £10.2 million or less, with fewer than 50 employees.

Government has provided other exemptions, including migrant workers who:

  • Were on Tier 2 visas before April 2017 and are applying to extend from within the UK
  • Are Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfer) graduate trainees
  • Are non-EU nationals filling PhD-level roles
  • Change from a Tier 4 (General) student visa to a Tier 2 (General) visa

The process to be followed by the UK-based employer to employ a non-EU national is a two-step process:

  1. Obtaining a sponsorship licence
  2. Issuing a certificate of sponsorship (COS)

Contact our work permits team


Phone: +44 (0) 20 7759 7584

South Africa

Cape Town

Regent Square
Doncaster Road
Kenilworth 7708 +27 (0) 21 657 2120


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Umhlanga +27 (0) 31 536 8843

United Kingdom


Castlewood House
77/91 New Oxford Street
WC1A 1DG +44 (0) 20 7759 7514


5-7 Selsdon Road
South Croydon
CR2 6PU +44 (0) 20 7759 7581



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South Yarra
VIC 3141 +613 (0) 8651 4500

Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 07070528), registered in England and Wales. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (1st Contact Money [PTY] Ltd - FSP no. 41900) and hold an Australian Financial Services License issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (1st Contact Group - AFS License number 335 126).

Please note: Sable International is a trading name of Philip Gamble and Co. Ltd. Philip Gamble and Co. Ltd is registered in the UK with the Office of the Immigration Service Commissioner (OISC) under no. F2001-00004. Our staff based outside of the UK are not regulated by the OISC and may be involved in some client casework. However, they work to the same high standards as our UK staff and clients receive the same service regardless of which office they engage with.

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