The Home Office has provided updated guidance on whether guaranteed income allowances and benefits in kind can be included when detailing a sponsored worker’s gross salary in allocated certificates of sponsorship for skilled worker visa applications.
It is important that businesses with a sponsor licence to sponsor skilled worker visa applicants understand the Home Office rule changes because if the new guidance is not followed the new recruit’s salary may not meet the minimum salary threshold for a skilled worker visa resulting in visa refusal and a delay in the recruitment process.
Under the old Home Office guidance, some forms of guaranteed income allowances could be included when detailing the sponsored recruit’s gross salary. The revised Home Office guidance limits the guaranteed allowances and perks that can be taken into account when assessing whether a skilled worker visa applicant’s salary meets the minimum salary threshold for the job they have been recruited to fill and its standard occupational classification code.
Under the guidance changes, specified guaranteed income payments payable to the sponsored employee are not relevant when Home Office officials assess whether the salary detailed in the certificate of sponsorship meets the minimum salary threshold.
Your business can no longer rely on the following guaranteed allowances and payments to help meet the salary threshold for skilled worker visa applicants:
- Golden hellos
- Payment of visa application fees and the immigration health surcharge
- Guaranteed shift allowances, overtime, and bonus pay
- Private health insurance premiums
- The provision of accommodation or company cars
- Guaranteed pension and national insurance contributions
Our senior business immigration solicitor Rashid Uzzaman comments
The updated Home Office guidance on allowances that can no longer be included to calculate whether the salary of a skilled worker visa applicant meets the minimum salary threshold for a skilled worker visa has made life tougher for UK businesses. It is inevitable that some firms will need to increase the salaries on offer to overseas recruits as their businesses can no longer rely on guaranteed allowances forming part of the minimum salary calculation undertaken by Home Office officials assessing visa applications. That seems regrettable at a time when there is government pressure on UK firms to keep salaries in check to reduce the risks of uncontrollable inflation. To avoid work visa applications being refused, leading to recruitment delay, it is best to check out the minimum salary threshold for the job based on the published going rate and to establish if the job is on the shortage occupation list or if the recruit meets the Home Office definition of a new entrant.
How we can help your business
If your business is employing skilled worker visa holders on salaries close to the minimum salary threshold for their sponsored employment you may benefit from guidance on the new rules to help you structure employment terms and to reduce the risk of recruitment delays. Seeking advice from one of our business immigration solicitors can hep you avoid compliance issues and potential fines.