Sohan Sidhu, head of immigration at Ellisons Solicitors, looks at the impact of higher visa fees on businesses.

Following its announcement over public sector wage rises, the government stated that it would be funding these rises through increases in visa fees.

On October 4, the Home Office increased visa fees across a wide range of immigration routes into the UK, and some of the fees increased by between 15% and 20%.

Under most routes, a migrant is also required to pay the immigration health surcharge (IHS) which is a contribution towards the health service. Currently, the charge is £624 per year, and it is expected to increase to about £1,035 per year from autumn of this year.

As an example, an applicant applying for permanent residence in the UK previously paid a Home Office application fee of £2,404 per person, and the fee now has increased to £2,885 per person.

For an applicant applying for citizenship, the fee previously was £1,250 and now is £1,500. The increases are therefore significant.

East Anglian Daily Times: Sohan Sidhu, head of immigration at Ellisons SolicitorsSohan Sidhu, head of immigration at Ellisons Solicitors (Image: Paul Cudmore Photography)
Employers who employ foreign nationals will need to assess the impact of the fee increases on their recruitment and retention policies from both cost and budgeting perspectives.

We are often asked by sponsors (employers) whether they can enter into clawback provisions with their foreign employee to cover the situation where they may leave their employment earlier than planned.

It is important to bear in mind that certain Home Office fees such as the immigration skills charge (a levy placed upon employers for employing foreign workers) cannot be clawed back from foreign workers.

It should, however, be borne in mind that any clawback clauses will need to be drafted in accordance with employment law, and it would be advisable to seek advice from a specialist employment lawyer if clawback clauses are to be considered.

With the significant fee hikes introduced, employers may need to consider their budgeting constraints and business expansion plans, especially bearing in mind the fees to recruit foreign workers can often run into several thousand pounds.

For advice on this or any other immigration issues, please do not hesitate to contact Sohan Sidhu direct on 01284 763333, or email him at