On 13 July 2023, the Government agreed to raise immigration fees significantly for sponsoring employers and their migrant employees. Employers should be wary of the additional costs burden when employing migrant workers. This is no doubt disappointing news as the health and social care sector relies heavily on sponsored individuals. The burden may be too much to bear for some employers.
Important points to note:
There is currently no date confirmed for the implementation of these fee changes.
- Worker visa fees are set to rise by 15%.
- Employers considering sponsoring individuals may want to get their applications in as soon as possible to avoid the rise.
- Employers need to consider whether their budgets for the current year will be sufficient to cover the rise.
- Employers need to be wary of knee-jerk decision-making surrounding recruitment to avoid being discriminatory towards applicants with particular visas.
What are the changes?
The Immigration Health Surcharge (which migrant workers pay towards healthcare access) is set to increase to £1,035. This is a huge 417% increase over the past five years. However, it’s important to note that Tier 2/Skilled Worker/Health and Care Worker visa holders and their family members are exempt from paying this.
- Work visas are set to increase by 15%
- Student visas and other visas could rise by up to 20%
How will they affect my organisation?
Employers should remember that a large amount of health and social care roles are covered by the skilled worker regime, which entitles them to slightly lower fees. However, it’s disappointing that the Government have not considered exempting these visas from the rises.
It may be that in order to entice workers to the UK that employers will need to agree to shoulder the burden of the immigration fees, as many migrant workers might be put off by the fee rises. Employers may also have requests from current workers for help with paying their own immigration fees.
It may be that in deciding to sponsor an individual, an organisation may want to make more use of immigration fee clawback arrangements in order to protect themselves if an employee decides to leave an organisation. However, it’s important to remember that these arrangements are not straightforward and come with risk – careful drafting is needed to ensure that these clauses are legally enforceable and employers should take legal advice before enforcing the clause due to the risks associated with enforcement, in particular national minimum wage compliance risks. If you require further information about this, please contact one of our team on 0121 200 3242.