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Skilled Worker ISC Exempt Rules (Employer Guide)

Employers who have a sponsor licence may be familiar with the complexities of the Immigration Skills Charge. This is a charge that can fall on employers who hire a Skilled Worker or Senior or Specialist Worker. However, not all careers require employers to pay the Immigration Skills Charge.

If you are unsure whether or not you have to pay and if your employees are exempt, give us a call at +44 (0)333 305 9375. IAS is well-versed in immigration law, and we can help you understand how ISC works.


What Is The Immigration Skills Charge (ISC)?

The immigration skills charge is an extra fee payable by the sponsoring employer in cases where a Certificate of Sponsorship is provided before an employee begins employment. Sponsors must pay this and cannot pass liability for it onto a sponsored worker.

UK employers sponsoring overseas workers will need to pay the immigration skills charge if their applicant is applying for a visa from outside of the UK to work in the UK for over 6 months, or if they are applying for a visa from inside the UK for any period.

The amount that is paid by a company to cover the immigration skills charge will be calculated depending on the size of the sponsoring organisation as well as the length of employment of the employee noted on the certificate of sponsorship.

For example, a sponsor that is a large company will be required to pay an immigration skills charge fee of £1,000 per worker per year. Alternatively, a small charitable company would only need to pay an immigration skills charge fee of £364 per worker per year.

Our expert lawyers can guide you through the process of Skilled worker ISC exempt rules.

Skilled Worker ISC Exempt Rules

Sponsor licence-holding employers are not liable to pay the immigration skills charge if they are sponsoring a skilled worker in a role that has a specific occupation code. The occupation codes that are considered exempt from the immigration skills charge include the following:

  • 2111: Chemical scientists.
  • 2112: Biological scientists and biochemists.
  • 2113: Physical scientists.
  • 2114: Social and humanities scientists.
  • 2119: Natural and social science professionals not otherwise classified.
  • 2150: Research and development managers.
  • 2311: Higher education teaching professionals.
  • 2444: Clergy.
  • 3441: Sports players.
  • 3442: Sports coaches, officials, and instructors.

Additionally, employers will not be required to pay the immigration skills charge if they are employing an individual who is switching from a student visa to a Skilled Worker visa or a Senior or Specialist Worker visa, and is extending their stay on this new visa.

Global Business Mobility Senior Or Specialist Worker Route ISC

Employers do not have to pay the immigration skills charge at all if the worker they are sponsoring falls under all of the following criteria:

  • The worker was assigned a certificate of sponsorship on or after January 1, 2023.
  • The worker is a national of an EU country, or they have a Latvian non-citizen passport.
  • The worker typically works in the EU for an EU business, but the worker has been temporarily transferred to do work in the UK.
  • The end date of the worker’s temporary transfer is no more than 36 months from the start date.

The Home Office guidance on Global Business Mobility Routes and ISC states that when an employer issues a certificate of sponsorship, they must use an ISC-exempt certificate of sponsorship. They will also need to confirm that the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement exemption will apply.

They should also submit details regarding the exemption, including the location of the business in the EU that is assigning the worker to work in the UK. Additionally, they will also need to confirm if the worker is a Latvian non-citizen passport holder or if the worker is entitled to one.

It should be remembered that the ISC exemption does not apply to applicants who are nationals of Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, or Norway.

This visa type, the Global Business Mobility (Senior or Specialist Worker) visa, allows for staff from overseas businesses to transfer and work for a branch or a subsidiary of the same company in the United Kingdom. Those who are working under this route have to be existing employees of an existing sponsor.

Additionally, these applicants also need to have a certificate of sponsorship from their employer, as well as have a job that is eligible for this route, and will need to receive a salary of £42,400 per year at minimum.

IAS Is Here To Assist You

The rules around immigration visas for employment are ever-changing, and understanding the immigration skills charge on top of this can be quite difficult. If you are hiring workers and are unsure if they apply to the exemptions or not, it is best to seek out professional advice.

Here at IAS, we are experts in immigration law, and we are well-versed in the updates to the immigration skills charge. We can assist you in working through the fine print and making sure your ISC is paid where needed but not in unnecessary situations. Give us a call at +44 (0)333 305 9375 if you need some guidance on understanding how ISC works.

We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at our Lagos office, all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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