SPOTLIGHT: Employing Skilled Foreign Workers

Businesses, organisations and NGOs depend on the right people thrive. Businesses want to get ahead of competitors, and non-profit organisations sometimes need to employ foreign workers as a necessary part of operations. Further, the ability to employ foreign workers also helps the organisation to have a diverse workforce.

Talent can be, and usually is, sought from all parts of the world. To employ foreign nationals, your business must obtain a licence from the UK government. This post aims to help employers consider the suitability of obtaining a sponsorship licence for their business or organisation.

Business Requirements

  • Genuine business / organisation. The business or organisation must provide specific mandatory evidence to prove that that it is genuine, and give details of the post(s) to be fuilfilled in the context of business operations. Licences for skilled workers require a written statement setting out the business need for foreign skilled workers and be accompanied by a business structure chart.
  • Reporting responsibility. The business must show that there is an adequate procedure in place with regards to HR. The sponsorship licence carries with it responsibilites as an employer to report non-attendance and ensuring that the online Sponsorship Management System is used correctly.
  • Ensuring that legal obligations as an employer are fulfilled, including (but not limited to) the National Minimum Wage and Working Time Regulations requirements.
  • Your sponsorship licence rating may be reduced if your business fails to fulfil its responsibility as a licenced employer of foreign workers, or through the incorrect use of the Sponsorship Management System. The licence may be revoked in certain circumstances where the breach is serious.


There are a range of skilled worker categories open for your business to benefit from. When applying, the correct SIC occupation codes must be used which are relative to the job roles and your business need. If the business cannot show a genuine need for the foriegn worker, or if the job role cannot be justified relative to the business operations, the application for a licence is likely to fail.

The following are some of the work categories open for foreign skilled workers:

  • Executive Officers, Senior Officials
  • Advertisement and Marketing
  • Estate Agents
  • Doctors, Nurses & Care Workers
  • Construction and Building Workers (incl. Architects)
  • Manufacturing and Production
  • Scientists and Engineers
  • Professional Services (Finance, Legal, Investment, Brokers ..)
  • Energy & Environment
  • Chefs, Bakers and Confectioners
  • Travel, Leisure and Hotels
  • IT & Web Design Professionals
  • Retail, Restaurants and Takeways

*These are just some of the categories – please contact us to discuss your individual business need.


The application fee is £536 for smaller businesses and chairtable organisations, increasing to £1476 for medium and larger businesses. This fee is for a standard application with a turnaround time of approximately 8 weeks. Businesses can choose to pay an additional fee of £500 to priortise the application and receive a decision in 10 working days.


The application fees for a skilled worker visa itself range from £551 (for jobs on the shortage occupation list) up to £1500 (for an in-country extension application). The fee is also dependent on the length of the visa.

Aside from the application fees, there are other associated costs with employing foreign workers. For each proposed employee, the employer will be required to pay:

  • £239 for each certificate of sponsorship issued, and;
  • an immigration skills charge of £364 for 12 months, plus £182 for each additional 6 month period.

Furthermore, the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is also payable. This is currently £624 per year, but is expected to increase to £1035 in 2024.

The skilled worker will need to show evidence of maintenence money available (£1270). These funds must be in a bank account and held for 28 days continously. Alternatively, the employer may cover this cost for the first month by providing a statement confirming the same. This is to ensure that skilled workers have the means to accomodate and maintain themselves upon entering the UK.

You can discusss these costs with potential employees and consider sharing some of the costs associated with employing foreign workers. For example, the IHS is for the benefit of the employee and therefore can be reasonably covered by them.

Contact us to discuss how we can help your business.