The Home Office have announced that UK employers will have to pay up to £1,000 per year per non-EU employee sponsored under the Tier 2 Visa scheme from April 2017.
Marcus Mason, Head of Business, Education and Skills at the British Chamers of Commerce (NCC) said:
“We are disappointed that the government has accepted the recommendation to introduce the Immigration Skills Charge, and other measures from the Migration Advisory Committee. These measures are bad news for business and will damage the UK’s reputation as a global business hub.
“Businesses are reporting severe recruitment difficulties, especially for highly-skilled and specialised positions, and it makes no sense to slap new charges on firms that need to recruit from overseas – often because they are left with little alternative due to skills gaps here at home.
“The government must now consider how the Surcharge interacts with other policies, particularly as businesses face so many upfront costs already, such as the apprenticeship levy, pensions auto-enrolment, and the national living wage.”
Neil Carberry, CBI director for employment and skills policy, said: “Skilled migration is good for the UK, helping to fill skills gaps and supporting firms to trade globally.
“Businesses want to see the Tier 2 cap raised not further visa price increases, especially a skills charge, which will only hold them back from accessing the talent they need to grow.”
This charge is in addition to increases of up to 25% in Home Office fees from 18 March 2016 and these changes are in addition to the yearly doubling of dependant fees to the point that the Home Office are now charging £1,876 for looking at a child’s passport and birth certificate when an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain is submitted.
The let’s not forget the Immigration Health Surcharge of £200 per applicant per year of visa grant that was introduced and that will now apply to Australian and New Zealand applicants – apparently our reciprocal arrangements only go so far and this has not gone unnoticed in those countries.
The Immigration Health Surcharge was allegedly introduced due to ‘healthcare tourism’ costing the NHS significant amounts of money, yet this charge was not applied to EEA Citizens or those from outside the UK coming here as visitors. Instead, the Home Office have applied the charge only to those who will already be paying tax and National Insurance.
The Immigration Health Surcharge was applied to visa holders already in the UK and no only to new migrants, thus moving the goalposts and making it harder for migrants and their families to remain in the UK.
This is a cynical attack on UK business, grabbing yet more money from them under the guise of doing ‘something about immigration’. The Tier 2 process is already overly complex and expensive. Companies do not undertake the expense and effort required to sponsor someone and open themselves up to unannounced Home Office audits unless they really need the sponsored employee and many Companies will simply have to pay yet more money to the Government or lose the employees that they need to grow the economy.
‘Immigration’ represents an easy target for the Government and they appear to believe that the British public will be happy to have skilled migration reduced while nothing is done to halt unskilled migration through freedom of movement. The British public are, however, likely to have a more intelligent approach to the topic and the Government’s changes will do nothing other than damage our economy for the sake of a headline that they believe will help their careers.