Blog by Gary McIndoe, Managing Director, Latitude Law
Over the past few years, fees for all applications to the Home Office have increased substantially – raising the question – is the Home Office trying to cut down on the number of foreign workers residing in the UK? For any employer who has foreign workers it is important to be aware of the financial realities even reasonably standard applications can have for your workers. For example, if you sponsor a worker and they, their partner and child eventually apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK after having worked for your business for the required time, they will have to pay the Home Office a staggering £6,891. These fees are 22.5% higher than they were a year ago.
It is no secret that the Home Office makes a tidy profit on such applications. Applicants have no other realistic option, once lawfully present in the UK, but to keep extending their leave until they achieve settled status here. The Home Office has always been clear that, in its view, the fees charged are justifiable, as having an immigration system costs money and it is expected that those using it should subsidise the cost of its operation.
This principle has never been exclusively about individual applicants either. The Home Office charges employers for sponsoring foreign workers through fees on applications for Sponsor Licences and for the Certificates of Sponsorship that need to be allocated to individual workers.
In order to encourage hiring from within the UK and EU, the Home Office in April of this year introduced an Immigration Skills Charge. This is a one-off fee per sponsored worker which, assuming a worker is sponsored for the maximum allowed 5-year period, comes to £1,820 for a small employer (generally 50 employees or less) and £5,000 for a large one. There have been warnings that such charges could disproportionately impact some industries, particularly healthcare which is reliant on highly skilled foreign nationals.
This places an additional burden on employers who are already obliged, in the overwhelming majority of cases, to advertise for a position to already-settled workers for a month before they can even consider offering the job to a foreign national. If employers have genuinely shown that there is nobody in the domestic workforce to undertake a role, the question is whether it is then appropriate for the Home Office to charge them such a significant amount for a failure of the domestic labour market to provide the skills they need to grow. For a government which speaks frequently about its desire to attract the brightest and best, this appears to be quite a contradiction.
If you or your business have any queries relating to the matters raised in this article, please contact Latitude Law to discuss this with our specialist lawyers.