United Kingdom – Introduction of the Skills Charge for Tier 2 Migrants (subject to Parliamentary approval)

What has changed

In 2016 the government of the United Kingdom announced a major overhaul of the Tier 2 immigration category of the points-based system. This was done in response to a recommendation made by the Migration Advisory Committee, an independent public body that advises the government on migration issues.

As part of the changes aimed at discouraging employers’ overreliance on skilled non-EEA migrants, the government proposed to introduce a skills levy payable with every Tier 2 visa application. Tier 2 of the points-based system is used for intra-company transfers and also enables employers to fill skilled jobs in the UK for which no suitable settled worker could be identified.

Who is affected?

  • Tier 2 Migrants

What to expect

Types of visa affected and rates

The government has now confirmed its plans to bring the Immigration Skills Charge into force from April 6, 2017, subject to parliamentary approval. The levy is set at £1000 per skilled worker per year, payable upfront at the time of application for the duration of visa requested. For example, a typical Tier 2 (General) migrant applying to come to the UK for three (3) years will be subject to a skills charge of £3000 in addition to all other government charges, which currently include visa processing fees and the recently introduced Immigration Health Surcharge.

Reduced rate for small companies

There is, however, a concession for small and charitable organisations; they will be subject to a skills charge of £364 per sponsored migrant per year. To qualify as a small organisation, one must have no more than fifty (50) employees and have an annual turnover of no more than £10,2 million.


The skills charge will not apply to existing Tier 2 Migrants switching employers in the UK or extending their Tier 2 visas with their current employers. The exemption also extends to Tier 4 Students switching into Tier 2 General within the University; Tier 2 (ICT- Graduate Trainees); certain PhD- level jobs; and dependants of Tier 2 migrants.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your client.