Visa to moving your business to the UK

Do you want to start up your own business in the UK?

Indeed, you may have resolved to come to the UK to live. On an Innovator Founder visa, you’d need to have an entrepreneurial spirit and intend to start your own business.

Now, let’s see if the Innovator Founder visa is your best visa route and its eligibility criteria.

What is an Innovator Founder visa?

This visa was previously known as the Innovator Visa. The visa is designed to attract innovators and entrepreneurs to the UK as the UK needs talented and ambitious people who can meet the points-based immigration system eligibility criteria and go on to set up an innovative business in the UK.

AK Immigration Advisory Service finds that when the UK mentions that a business idea must be ‘innovative,’ visa applicants tend to be deterred from making a business visa application. The word ‘innovative’ should not put you off. You should rather think through your business idea and how it can be made innovative. Your business idea can’t be the same as everyone else’s business plan but it does not have to be a brand-new invention, just a bit different from other things already on the market in the UK.

Is the Innovator Founder visa right for you?

Interestingly, if you are contemplating coming to the UK to set up your own business, this visa option may be ideal for you if you have business experience gained in the workplace, just starting out as an entrepreneur with a good business idea and you now want to move to the UK and, at the same time, pursue your goal of owning your own business.

The Innovator Founder visa – your future in the UK

This visa is valid for 3 years, after which, you may apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain if the requirements are met. If you do not meet the requirements for ILR, you may apply to further extend your visa. To get an Innovator Founder visa you will need an endorsement from an endorsing body and submit an application to the Home Office.


You must be able to show that your business Idea is:

  • new- you cannot join a business that is already trading.
  • innovative – you must have an original business idea that is different from anything else on the market
  • viable, with the potential for growth
  • scalable – you must give evidence of planning that includes creating jobs and growing into national and international markets

You must also meet the following requirements:

  • Age – you must be at least 18 years old.
  • English language – you must meet the English language requirement – you may either need to take an English language test or be exempt from doing so because of your nationality or qualifications.
  • Maintenance requirement – you must meet the maintenance requirement – this means you need to be able to prove that you have savings to support yourself whilst you are in the UK.
  • General eligibility – you meet the general entry clearance or leave to remain requirements for all visa applicants.

If you would like to more information on the Innovator Founder visa, please contact for further information.

Visa and immigration rules for UK marriage

Looking for a spouse visa so you can join your husband, wife or civil partner in the UK? Then you’d need a visa to join or accompany your partner to live in the UK.

To discuss your spouse visa and marriage visitor visa options, quickly reach out to us at and get help.

In this post, our immigration experts consider the immigration rules on getting married in the UK.

To get married or enter into a civil partnership in the UK, you may need either a:

The UK fiancé (e) visa

This comes to fore if you are engaged to a:

  1. British Citizen in the UK, or
  2. person present and settled in the UK, or
  3. person in the UK with refugee leave or with humanitarian protection; or
  4. person in the UK with limited leave under Appendix EU or
  5. person in the UK with limited leave as a worker or business person under Appendix ECAA Extension of Stay

and you want to get married and live with your partner in the UK. This visa is granted for six months and you will need to be married and then apply for a spouse visa before the expiration of the visa.

The eligibility criteria for a fiancé visa are:

  • You and your partner are both over the age of 18 and
  • You have met your partner in person and you are both free to marry. (This means you or your partner are not already married or in a civil partnership and any previous relationship has broken down). In other words, your relationship is genuine and isn’t a ‘sham’ and
  • You intend to marry within six months of arrival in the UK and intend to live together permanently in the UK and
  • You have adequate accommodation in the UK and the means to fund yourself without reliance on public funds and
  • You meet the English language requirement and
  • In some cases the Tuberculosis requirement

In summary, the marriage visa is only right for you if you don’t want to live in the UK after your marriage or civil partnership.

If you intend to stay in the UK after your marriage then the fiancé visa is probably the best visa option for you provided that the person you are engaged to is either a British citizen or is classed as having indefinite leave to remain or settled status under the immigration rules.

Applying for a spouse visa after marrying in the UK

Here are the rules.

  • If you enter the UK on a marriage visitor visa then you can’t apply for a spouse visa whilst in the UK on the marriage visitor visa.
  • To secure a spouse visa, you will need to leave the UK and apply from overseas for a spouse visa.
  • If your intention is to settle in the UK then Spouse Visa Solicitors recommend that you take legal advice on your best visa options before applying for a marriage visitor visa.
  • If you enter the UK on a fiancé visa and you want to stay in the UK for more than six months then you must make your application to stay before your fiancé visa expires. Note that the application will be for a spouse visa and you will need to meet the financial requirement.

It is best to check spouse visa eligibility criteria before applying for a fiancé visa. For example, to see if you will meet the financial requirement or if you will be exempt from it because your partner is in receipt of certain state benefits on a prescribed list.

In all honesty, when it comes to getting married in the UK and applying for a spouse visa, it is best to be organised and to have an understanding on the UK immigration rules on getting married in the UK before you make the decision to marry in the UK.

Need help with your marriage visa, fiancé visa or spouse visa? Feel free to get in touch. Please contact for further information.

Smart UK visa options for entrepreneurs and businesses

No doubt, the UK is a highly attractive market for overseas businesses. But it also has an immigration regime that has become increasingly challenging in recent years.

Since the UK’s exit from the EU, various UK immigration routes have been overhauled, with more changes expected in the near future. It is therefore important to stay up-to-date about current visa options and what the future holds. Why not add this blog to your newsfeed by turning on the notification bell and being the first to get all our updates.

For entrepreneurs and businesses based outside the UK, there are various immigration routes that can potentially be used, depending on the circumstances. Different routes are available depending on whether a business already has an established presence in the UK. Whether the aim is to set up a new business in the UK or a business based abroad wants to establish a UK branch or subsidiary, you have viable options to choose from.

Current UK visa options for overseas entrepreneurs and businesses

  • Start-up visasFrom 13 April 2023 this route is only available to those who hold a valid Start-up endorsement issued before the 13 April 2023. From 13 July 2023 the Start-up route will be closed to all new applications.

Simply put, start-up visas are a potential option where someone is planning to start an “innovative” business in the UK. Note the word in emphasis, please. Yes, the business must be “different from anything else on the market” and the business or business idea will need to be endorsed by an authorised endorsing body.

Start-up visas are aimed at entrepreneurs who wish to establish a business in the UK for the first time and the business should not yet have started trading. You do not need to have secured initial funding to apply.

Note that a start-up visa is a one-off visa, valid for 2 years and it does not provide a direct route to indefinite leave to remain. However, you can potentially extend your stay in the UK when a start-up visa is due to expire by applying for further leave to remain in the Innovator Founder visa category.

Also note that you will need to meet other basic eligibility requirements, including being at least 18 years old, having the required standard of English, and being able to prove you have sufficient personal savings to support yourself in the UK.

  • Innovator Founder visa

Innovator Founder visa is similar to a start-up visa in that they are intended for those who wish to start an innovative business in the UK and the business or its idea must be endorsed by an authorised endorsing body.

Key differences are that innovator visas are aimed at experienced business people, you must have at least £50,000 in investment funds and you will be able to stay in the UK for 3 years with the option to apply for indefinite leave to remain at the end of this time.

As with a start-up visa, you must meet other basic eligibility requirements.

  • Representative of an overseas business visasA person applying as a Representative of an Overseas Business must either be a Media Representative or applying for an extension or settlement as a Sole Representative as this route is closed for entry clearance applications for those that are not representing a Media organisation.

The representative of an overseas business visa is aimed at people who are employed by an overseas business and wish to move to the UK to set up a UK branch of the company or a wholly owned subsidiary. They can also be used by employees of newspapers, news agencies, or broadcasters who are being posted to the UK on a long-term basis.

This type of visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to 3 years initially, which can be extended for another 2 years depending on the circumstances.

You cannot work for yourself or for any other business while in the UK on a representative of an overseas business visa.

This route has been discontinued but those already on it can apply for extend and settle permanently in the UK.

  • The Global Business Mobility route

The Home Office announced this new immigration route for global businesses in Spring 2022. This new type of visa is aimed at overseas businesses with an existing presence in the UK as well as those that wish to establish a presence here.

The Global Business Mobility visa is available for firms without an established UK presence that needs to bring people to the UK who are:

  • Supplying a service in the UK in line with UK trade agreements
  • A ‘UK expansion worker’ entering the UK to establish a UK presence for the business
  • Secondment workers employed in high-value contracts or investments

It can also be used for firms with established UK presences that need to bring in people from overseas who are:

  • Senior and/or specialist workers required to meet specific business needs
  • Graduate trainees taking part in a recognised graduate training programme
  • Secondment workers employed in high-value contracts or investments

It is expected that the new Global Business Mobility visa would act as a replacement for the representative of an overseas business visa and intra-company visas.

For expert advice on UK visa options for entrepreneurs and businesses, or any other aspect of immigration advice you seek. Please contact for further information.

Quick guide to short-stay UK visa

Every year, millions of people apply for short-stay visas to visit the UK. Sadly, due to lack of information, understanding and the right guidance about the application process, not many are able to make a successful application. Therefore, the focus of this post is to provide you with the quick guidance to help you make a successful short-stay UK visa application.

Let’s take a quick look at these three categories:

  1. Short-term UK students visa
  2. Visitor visa
  3. Parent of a Tier 4 Child Student

What is a Short-Term Student Visa?

This route is for a person aged 16 and over who wants to study an English language course in the UK lasting longer than 6 month and up to 11 months at an accredited institution

You can only study an English language course.

 What is a Visitor Visa?

This route is for a person who wants to visit the UK for a temporary period, (usually for up to 6 months), for purposes such as tourism, visiting friends or family, carrying out a business activity, or undertaking a short course of study.

Each Visitor must meet the requirements of the Visitor route, even if they are travelling as, for example, a family group, a tour group or a school party.

A visa national as set out in Appendix Visitor: Visa National list must obtain entry clearance as a Visitor (a visit visa) before arrival in the UK.

A non-visa national can normally seek entry on arrival in the UK.

There are 4 types of Visitor:

  • Standard Visitor: for those seeking to undertake the activities set out in Appendix Visitor: Permitted Activities, for example tourism and visiting family, usually for up to 6 months. A Standard Visitor may apply for a visit visa of six months, two, five or 10 years validity, however each stay in the UK must not exceed the permitted length of stay endorsed on the visit visa (usually six months).
  • Marriage/Civil Partnership Visitor: for those seeking to come to the UK to marry or form a civil partnership, or give notice of marriage or civil partnership.
  • Permitted Paid Engagement Visitor: for experts in their field coming to the UK to undertake specific paid engagements for up to one month.
  • Transit Visitor: for those who want to transit the UK on route to another country outside the Common Travel Area and who will enter the UK for up to 48 hours by crossing the UK border unless Appendix Visitor: Transit Without Visa Scheme applies.

Visitors cannot work in the UK unless this is expressly allowed under the permitted activities set out in Appendix Visitor: Permitted Activities.

What is a Parent of a Child Student Visa?

If your child attends an independent, fee-paying day school in the UK, you are eligible for a parent of 4 child student visa.

How to apply for parent of a tier 4 child UK visa

Do you need to apply for a Parent of a Child Student Visa? Please speak to our experts to find out about our fast, friendly and affordable service.

A parent of a child Student visa is a visa for overseas parents with children attending an independent fee-paying school in the UK. The visa is granted in line with the child student’s visa.

You can apply for a visa up to 3 months prior to travelling to the UK, and – in general – you should expect to know the outcome of your visa application within 3 weeks.

 Parent of child Student visa requirements & eligibility

The eligibility requirements for a Parent of a Child Student visa are relatively straightforward. For an application to be successful, you would need to meet the following requirements:

  • Have the necessary funds to support yourself while you’re in the UK
  • Have and maintain a second home outside the UK
  • Intend to leave the UK at the end of your visa

In addition, there are certain eligibility requirements that your child must fulfill – specifically, they:

  • Must be aged between 4 and 11 years
  • Have, or at the same time be applying for, entry clearance or permission to stay, under Appendix Child Student

Parent of a child Student restrictions

There are many restrictions attached to a Parent of Child Student visa. Under this visa category, while you’re in the UK on a Parent of a Child Student visa, you cannot:

  • do paid work
  • study
  • start a business
  • make the UK your main home
  • apply for benefits or the State Pension
  • bring other family members with you
  • switch to a different type of visa

If you’d like detailed information regarding short-UK visa, Please speak to our experts. Let’s help you with our fast, friendly and affordable service. Please contact for further information.

Do I really need a UK immigration expert?

Immigration Records

Still wondering: ‘Do I need an immigration advisor?’ The straight-to-the-point answer is yes, you do. This is because both private/individual immigration and corporate immigration are some of the most complex areas of UK law.

Interestingly, visa applicants don’t want their UK visa application refused or want to have to appeal against a decision. For example, a Home Office decision to refuse an application for pre-settled status or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Why you need immigration consultants like AK Immigration Advisory Service?

There are numerous reasons you may NOT really do without an immigration advisor.

For instance, if you are an individual in the UK, you’d need individual immigration law advice on:

  • Switching from your current work visa or family visa or student visa.
  • Extending your current Tier 2 (General) visa for a skilled worker visa.
  • Applying for indefinite leave to remain.
  • Applying for British citizenship.
  • Seeking to overturns an immigration decision by administrative review

If you are an individual living outside the UK, you should need individual immigration law advice on:

  • Working in the UK and your various work visa options such as the skilled worker visa, intra company transfer visa, or temporary work visa.
  • Setting up a business in the UK on a visa such as the start-up visa or innovator visa.
  • Coming to the UK to reunite with family, for example, your spouse or civil partner.
  • Studying in the UK.

If you are a UK business owner, you’d need business immigration law advice on:

  • Recruiting EU nationals and skilled migrant workers
  • Applying for a sponsor licence to sponsor workers recruits on a skilled worker visa.
  • Managing your sponsor licence.
  • Help with the potential suspension or revocation of your sponsor licence.

For advice on any aspect of immigration, Please contact for further information

10 incredible facts about the UK graduate visa

Immigration skills charge

Have you noticed that UK employers and international students are attracted to the graduate visa? Do you know why? It’s because the graduate visa can prove so flexible. For UK business owners, it offers an additional work visa route without all the red tape and for international students it offers the best visa flexibility, provided you stick out your course and graduate.

At AK Immigration Advisory Service, here are the top 10 facts about the UK graduate visa, you should know:

  1. It’s flexible: truth is, if you are an international student in the UK on a student visa you are likely to meet the eligibility criteria for a graduate visa. This is because applicants are not restricted to those doing degrees in key STEM subjects. Applications are welcomed from all disciplines, so it doesn’t matter if your degree is in the history of art or media studies – you are free to apply for the graduate visa.
  2. No good degree needed: You don’t need a 2.1 degree to qualify for a graduate visa. You only need to have completed your course. There is no requirement that you must have graduated. Finishing your course alone is good enough.
  3. You don’t need a job. It is hard to get a good job when you are straight out of university. Many international students who want to stay in the UK feel under immense pressure to get a job with a sponsoring employer so they can stay in the UK on the skilled worker visa. The beauty of the graduate visa is that you can apply for the visa without having a job to go to.
  4. No need for a sponsoring employer: With the graduate visa you can take any job. That means you don’t need a sponsoring employer and you are not going to be forced into taking a job that you don’t really want just so you can get a skilled worker visa.
  5. You don’t need to meet a minimum salary threshold: Some graduates and international students say it can be hard to get a job in the UK with a sponsoring employer in their preferred career because of the skilled worker visa minimum salary threshold. With the graduate visa there is no minimum salary threshold so provided the UK employer pays you more than the national minimum wage you can do a job that interests you to allow you to get more experience. You can then switch to a skilled worker visa when you have the experience to justify the minimum salary threshold for the skilled worker visa in your chosen career.
  6. You don’t need to intend to apply for a skilled job:  The graduate visa immigration rules don’t say you have to plan to secure a graduate level job offer when you are applying for the graduate visa and the immigration rules don’t specify that your job search has to be related to your degree.
  7. No need to go home after you graduate and then apply for a graduate visa. Many international students don’t want to go home after they have completed their studies as it is hard to move from international student to living back at home. One of the best things about the graduate visa for some students is that you have to apply for the visa from the UK whilst you are still in the UK on a student visa.
  8. Post graduate students can apply for the graduate visa: The graduate visa is not restricted to graduates from universities. You may also be eligible to apply for a graduate visa if you have studied in the UK on a post-graduation course, such as a law conversion or post law degree course. If you are wondering if your course qualifies you to apply for the graduate visa the best thing to do is call one of our friendly immigration advisors for more information.
  9. You can stay in the UK for a minimum of two years on a graduate visa: A graduate visa is for two or three years depending on the nature of your qualification. If you decide, the graduate visa is not for you then you can go home earlier or you can apply to switch visa.  
  10. You visa switch options: As the graduate visa does not lead to settlement in the UK, you may want to look at visa switch options. With a degree and after some work experience whilst you are on the graduate visa, you may find it best to switch to the skilled worker visa as this work visa routes does lead to UK settlement. Once you meet the five-year residence requirement, you will then be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK and, if you chose to do so, you can go onto apply for British citizenship.

Are you excited already? We bet. Our UK immigration advisors truly understand that post-graduation can be hard to know what you want and where you want to be. That’s why approachable immigration experts are happy to chat with you to help you work out whether the graduate visa is the best visa route for you or not. Please contact for further information


The Graduate Route is an unsponsored, post-study work visa.

This is a 2-year visa and you cannot extend it.

If you are successful you will receive a 2-year visa if you have completed a Bachelors or Masters degree, or a 3-year visa if you have completed a PhD.

This scheme doesn’t lead to settlement.

To be eligible for this visa:

  1. you must be in the UK
  2. your current visa is a Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
  3. you studied a UK bachelor’s degree, postgraduate degree or other eligible courses for a minimum period of time with your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa
  4. your education provider (such as your university or college) has told the Home Office you’ve successfully completed your course. Note that you do not have to have graduated to apply.
  5. The education provider for your course must be a licensed sponsor with a ‘track record of compliance’.

You must apply before your Student visa or Tier 4 (General) student visa expires.

You can include your family members that were dependants on your Tier 4 (General) or Student visa on your application. If they were not your dependant on your Tier 4 (General) or Student visa, you cannot add them on your Graduate Scheme visa application.

Note that not all degrees obtained in the UK are eligible for the Graduate Scheme Visa. For more information on the Graduate Scheme visa, please contact for further information.

Certificates of Sponsorship

Sponsor Visa


As an employer, you must assign a certificate of sponsorship to each foreign worker you employ. This is an electronic record, not a physical document. Each certificate has its own number which a worker can use to apply for a visa.

When you assign the certificate to a worker, they must use it to apply for their visa within 3 months. They must not apply for their visa more than 3 months before the start date of the job listed on the certificate.

You may need to check if your worker needs an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before you assign a certificate of sponsorship.

The sponsor licence is valid for 4 years and you must perform your responsibilities as a sponsor, else you will lose your licence.

Responsibilities include:

  • (a) monitoring your employees’ immigration status.
  • (b) keeping copies of relevant documents for each employee, including passport and right to work information.
  • (c) tracking and recording employees’ attendance.
  • (d) keeping employee contact details up to date.
  • (e) reporting to UKVI if there is a problem, for example if your employee stops coming to work.



How much you pay for the licence depends on if you are a small or large company.

If you are a small sponsor if at least 2 of the below apply:

  • (a) You have an annual turnover is £10.2 million or less.
  • (b) Your total assets are worth £5.1 million or less.
  • (c) You have 50 employees or fewer.

Sponsor licence fee for small or charitable sponsors – £536

Sponsor licence fee for medium or large sponsors – £1,476

There is the Immigration Skills Charge paid when issuing as CoS to certain categories of Skilled Workers. The amount paid depends on the type of sponsor you are.

For small or charitable sponsors:

First 12 months of sponsorship – £364

Each additional 6 months – £182

For medium or large sponsors:

First 12 months of sponsorship- £1,000

Each additional 6 months – £500


Types of businesses eligible to apply for a licence

Any type of organisation can apply for a sponsorship licence you are trading and have a presence in the UK.


How long must you be in operation?

It does not matter how long you have been in operation and trading in the UK. If you are a new company and  trading for less than 18 months, you can also apply for a licence.


Processing time

It can take up to 8 weeks for a decision on your application for a sponsorship licence to be made. 

You will also have the option, for an extra fee to get a decision within 10 working days. This service is limited to a small daily number on a first come, first served basis.


Defined certificates

These are for people applying on a Skilled Worker visa from outside the UK.

You must apply for defined certificates for these workers through the sponsorship management system (SMS). You’ll get access to the SMS when you get your licence.


When you get the certificate

Applications are usually approved within one working day. It may take longer if UKVI need to carry out further checks on the information in your application.

Defined certificates will appear in your SMS account once they have been approved. You can then assign them to a worker.


Undefined certificates

These are for Skilled Workers applying from inside the UK, and applicants on all other visas.

When you apply for your licence you’ll be asked to estimate how many undefined certificates you’ll need for Workers and Temporary Workers in the first year.


If you’re sponsoring a UK Expansion Worker

You’ll only be able to assign one certificate of sponsorship, which must be assigned to the authorising officer so they can enter the UK.

Once they’ve got their visa, you can upgrade your licence to an A-rating and request additional certificates of sponsorship using the sponsorship management system (SMS).


Certificate costs

You’ll need to pay a fee when you assign a certificate to a worker. How much a certificate will cost depends on the type of sponsor licence you have.

Type of licence                                                                                                   Cost per Certificate

Worker (except workers on the International Sportsperson visa) £199
Temporary Worker £21
International Sportsperson – where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for more than 12 months £199
International Sportsperson – where the certificate of sponsorship is assigned for 12 months or less £21

Criminal record certificate requirement (mandatory) for a Skilled Worker

Immigration Records

The applicant is applying for entry clearance and is being sponsored for a job in any of the occupation codes listed below, they must provide a criminal record certificate from the relevant authority in any country in which they have been present for 12 months or more (whether continuously or in total) in the 10 years before the date of application, and while aged 18 or over:

  • Validity of certificates A certificate will normally be considered valid in the following circumstances: 
  • for the applicant’s latest country of residence, where it is issued no earlier than 6 months before the date of application 
  • for other countries where the applicant was present, where it is issued within the last 6 months before their last period of stay ended (this can be any date)

The requirement for Skilled Worker entry clearance applicants to produce a criminal record certificate is determined by the standard occupational classification (SOC) code attributed to their employment role in the UK. Those with roles in the following SOC codes are subject to the requirement:

  • 1181 Health services and public health managers and directors
  • 1184 Social services managers and directors
  • 1241 Health care practice managers
  • 1242 Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
  • 2211 Medical practitioners
  • 2212 Psychologists
  • 2213 Pharmacists
  • 2214 Ophthalmic opticians
  • 2215 Dental practitioners
  • 2217 Medical radiographers
  • 2218 Podiatrists
  • 2219 Health professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 2221 Physiotherapists
  • 2222 Occupational therapists
  • 2223 Speech and language therapists
  • 2229 Therapy professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 2231 Nurses
  • 2232 Midwives
  • 2312 Further education teaching professionals
  • 2314 Secondary education teaching professionals
  • 2315 Primary and nursery education teaching professionals
  • 2316 Special needs education teaching professionals
  • 2317 Senior professionals of educational establishments
  • 2318 Education advisers and school inspectors
  • 2319 Teaching and other educational professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 2442 Social workers
  • 2443 Probation officers
  • 2449 Welfare professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 3213 Paramedics
  • 3216 Dispensing opticians
  • 3217 Pharmaceutical technicians
  • 3218 Medical and dental technicians
  • 3219 Health associate professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 3231 Youth and community workers
  • 3234 Housing officers
  • 3235 Counsellors
  • 3239 Welfare and housing associate professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 3443 Fitness instructors
  • 3562 Human resources and industrial relations officers
  • 6121 Nursery nurses and assistants
  • 6122 Childminders and related occupations
  • 6123 Playworkers
  • 6125 Teaching assistants
  • 6126 Educational support assistants
  • 6141 Nursing auxiliaries and assistants
  • 6143 Dental nurses
  • 6144 Houseparents and residential wardens
  • 6145 Care workers and home carers
  • 6146 Senior care workers

Availability of criminal record certificates

The majority of countries have procedures for the issuing of criminal record certificates to their own citizens and to third country nationals living there.

Separate guidance on the availability of a criminal record certificate for individual countries can be found at:

Immigration Skills Charge

Immigration skills charge

You might have to pay an additional charge when you assign a certificate of sponsorship to someone applying for a Skilled Worker or Senior or Specialist Worker visa. This is called the ‘immigration skills charge’.

You must pay the immigration skills charge if they’re applying for a visa from:

  • outside the UK to work in the UK for 6 months or more
  • inside the UK for any length of time

When you do not need to pay

You will not have to pay the charge if you’re sponsoring someone with one of the following occupation codes:

  • chemical scientists (2111)
  • biological scientists and biochemists (2112)
  • physical scientists (2113)
  • social and humanities scientists (2114)
  • natural and social science professionals not elsewhere classified (2119)
  • research and development managers (2150)
  • higher education teaching professionals (2311)
  • clergy (2444)
  • sports players (3441)
  • sports coaches, instructors or officials (3442)

You also might not have to pay the charge if you’re sponsoring a worker who was assigned a certificate before 6 April 2017. You will not need to pay the charge for any of the worker’s dependents, for example their partner or child.

You will not have to pay the charge if a student in the UK switch to either a Skilled Worker or Senior or Specialist Worker visa and then extend their stay on the new visa.

How to pay

You pay the immigration skills charge when you assign a certificate of sponsorship to the worker.

How much it costs

The amount you need to pay is based on:

  • the size of your organization
  • how long the worker will work for you, using the start and end dates on their sponsorship certificate
PeriodSmall or charitable sponsorsMedium or large sponsors
First 12 months£364£1,000
Each additional 6 months£182£500

How to tell if you’re a small or charitable sponsor

You’re usually a small sponsor if at least 2 of the following apply:

  • your annual turnover is £10.2 million or less
  • your total assets are worth £5.1 million or less
  • you have 50 employees or fewer

You’re a charitable sponsor if you’re:

How much to pay based on how long the worker will work for you

If the worker will be in the UK for longer than 6 months but less than a year, you must pay for at least 12 months.

You must pay the full charge in one go.

The longest you can sponsor a worker for is 5 years, so the most you’ll have to pay is:

  • £1,820 (5 x £364) if you’re a small or charitable sponsor
  • £5,000 (5 x £1,000) if you’re a medium or large sponsor

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will contact you if you do not pay the charge or pay the wrong amount. You’ll have 10 working days to pay the charge – the worker’s visa application will be refused if you do not.


You’ll get a full refund if the worker’s visa application is:

  • refused or withdrawn
  • successful, but they do not come to work for you

You’ll get a partial refund if the worker:

  • gets less time on their visa than you sponsored them for
  • starts working for you but then changes to another sponsor
  • leaves their job before the end date on their certificate of sponsorship

You’ll also get a partial refund if you paid the medium or large sponsor fee when assigning the certificate, but had already notified UKVI that you’re now a small or charitable sponsor.

How long it takes

You usually get a refund within 90 days of:

  • telling UKVI that the worker did not come to work for you
  • the expiration date on the worker’s certificate of sponsorship, if they did not use it to apply for a visa
  • the date the worker’s visa application is refused or withdrawn
  • the date you assigned the certificate of sponsorship, if you had already notified UKVI that you became a small or charitable sponsor

If the worker’s visa application is refused, they can ask for the decision to be reviewed. This is known as an ‘administrative review’.

If they do not ask for an administrative review, you’ll get a refund within 90 days of the deadline for applying for one.

You’ll get a refund within 90 days of the administrative review being dismissed if the worker applied for one and were unsuccessful.