UKVI visa application fees – not always what you would expect

18 July 2019

Anyone involved with the UK immigration system knows that UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) regularly increases application fees and introduces new types of fees. 

Since April 2017, Tier 2 sponsors have had to pay the Immigration Skills Charge (ISC) of £1,000 (or a reduced fee for small or charitable sponsors) per year of the visa.  In January 2019 the Immigration Health Surcharge increased from £200 to £400 per year of the visa.  While there may or may not be good reasons for such new and increased fees, sometimes the application of the fees can be a little unfair and may catch employers by surprise.

For example, it is sometimes the case that where a Tier 2 sponsor has paid a £5,000 ISC for a new Tier 2 visa for an employee, unbeknown to the employer they are actually the spouse of a British citizen.  If soon after the grant of the visa the employee then decides they want to apply for a new visa as the spouse of a British citizen, you may be forgiven for thinking the employer could obtain a refund of the ISC.  But unfortunately that is not the case.  The latest sponsor guidance indicates that a refund of the ISC will not be payable where the Tier 2 worker switches to another immigration route and remains employed in the same job.  The ISC is only applicable to Tier 2 sponsored applications and so it appears to be a little unfair on employers. 

You may also think about trying to recoup the ISC from the employee via any clawback provisions in the employment contract.  But that is not an option as it is specifically precluded in the current sponsor guidance and it would be a ground for potential revocation of the sponsor licence.

Some employers will support the filing fees of their Tier 2 sponsored workers’ dependent family members.  Usually, all the family will apply together at the same time.  But where a new child is born in the UK to a Tier 2 worker, a new visa will be required for the child.  It is quite possible the Tier 2 employee has been sponsored for a 5 year visa but at the time of the child’s birth the Tier 2 employee only has say 6 months left on their visa. 

When it comes to the child’s application, there is a choice of whether to pay a main UKVI fee for a visa valid for up to 3 years or a visa valid for over 3 years.  The over 3 years option costs twice the amount of the under 3 years option.  In this scenario, common sense says the up to 3 years visa option is the right one.  Unfortunately, again, that is not strictly correct.  The form for the child’s application asks for how long the Tier 2 main applicant’s visa was granted – meaning a double fee is incurred for a visa valid for over 3 years when it will only be issued for say 6 months or less.

Our corporate immigration team remains on hand to navigate employers through the Tier 2 system and provide strategic advice.

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