How much does it cost to sponsor hospitality workers in the UK?

How Much Does it Cost to Sponsor Hospitality Workers in the UK?

The UK hospitality industry has a number of skilled positions eligible for sponsorship, in restaurants, bars, hotels, and other establishments. The Skilled Worker visa route is considered a favourable immigration route for overseas hospitality workers relocating to the UK.


Before sponsoring a hospitality worker it’s important to be aware of the associated fees, such as assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship, covering the Immigration Skill Charge and Healthcare surcharge. In this article, we will explain all the costs related to sponsoring international hospitality talent. 

How much does it cost to sponsor hospitality workers in the UK?

The employer is responsible for covering the Immigration Skill Charge for each visa candidate they intend to sponsor, the fee varies between companies based on the size of your organisation, although some occupations are exempt – click here for more information. See the table below for a breakdown of this charge.

Type of sponsor First 12 months After 12 months
Small sponsors £364 £182
Medium or large sponsors £1000 £500

Hiring international hospitality professionals has a number of associated costs, including obtaining a Sponsor Licence, the Skilled Worker visa application, healthcare surcharges, and more. See the table below for a list of the Home Office’s fees for a singular candidate being employed by a small organisation or charity.

 Cost of an application for 2 years Cost of an application for 5 years
Who is responsible for paying the fee
Certificate of Sponsorship £199 per CoS£199 per CoSEmployer
Immigration Skill Charge£364 per year so £728 in total£364 per year so £1,820 in totalEmployer
Healthcare Surcharge£624 per year so £1,248 in total£624 per year so £3,120 in totalThis can be paid by either the sponsor or the employee
Visa Application Fee£625 for up to 3 years £1,235 for over 3 yearsEmployer
Priority Service Within 5 Working Days £500 in addition to the application fee£500 in addition to the application feeThis is an optional service, paid by either the sponsor or employee
Priority Service For the Next Working Day£800 in addition to the application fee£800 in addition to the application feeThis is an optional service, paid by either the sponsor or employee

Let’s look at an example of how to break down these costs. There is a restaurant that would like to hire a restaurant manager using a 3-year Skilled Worker visa. The restaurant does not have a Sponsor Licence and has less than 50 employees.

Here are the steps and breakdown of the Home Office’s fees for this restaurant: 

  1. The restaurant will need to obtain a  Sponsor Licence before they can hire international workers. The Sponsor Licence application can take up to 8 weeks to process. At Nation.better we can help businesses obtain a licence for £1,000 + VAT (not including Home Office fees)
  2. The restaurant will be considered a small organisation because it meets the criteria set out by the Home Office which means it will spend less money compared to larger enterprises
  3. Once the restaurant has obtained a Sponsor Licence they will have a Certificate of Sponsorship allocation in their Sponsor Management System (SMS) to assign it to prospective international candidates. It costs £199 for a sponsor to assign a CoS to their preferred candidate 
  4. Once the CoS has been allocated and the visa application process is underway, the company will also need to pay the Immigration Skill Charge. In this case, this would cost £1,092 for the 3 years in total, equivalent to £364 per year for the duration of the visa 
  5. The restaurant or candidate will need to pay the Healthcare surcharge which costs £1,872 for the 3 years, equivalent to £624 per year
  6. Once the Skilled Worker visa application is ready to be submitted, the sponsor will be asked to pay the application fee which costs £625. The visa application will take 3 weeks to process for candidates applying from within the UK, or 8 weeks for those applying from outside the UK.  
  7. In order to expedite the visa application process, the restaurant may choose to use the 5-day priority service which costs an additional £500.

Therefore it would cost the restaurant £4,288 to sponsor an overseas restaurant manager to work for them for three years in the UK, using the priority service.

At Nation.better, we advise our clients to opt for a 2-year visa application as this is the optimum length of time for sponsoring a candidate. The 2-year application is significantly more cost-effective than the longer alternatives and helps employers avoid massive upfront costs for hiring international talent. Furthermore, eligible visa holders can formally apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) status after 5 years of being in the UK. Alternatively, they can apply for British Citizenship after 6 years. The possibility to remain in the UK without a visa within 5-6 years eliminates the need for a lengthier visa.

There are additional fees associated with the immigration process for candidates applying with accompanying dependents such as a married or unmarried partner, and their children. Additional fees will be applied if the application(s) of dependents is expedited using the priority services. For further information regarding these fees please consult the Home Office website

What is the refund policy for the skilled visa fees?

There are a number of factors that may lead to sponsors requesting a refund for fees associated with the visa application process. The Home Office is very clear about the parameters of refunds. Read on for a full list of fees, you can be refunded as an employer.  

A partial refund of the immigration skills charge will be issued if:

  • The worker’s visa application is rejected or withdrawn
  • The worker’s visa application is successful but the worker for any reason will no longer be coming to the UK to work for you

Sponsors can also receive a partial refund of fees if:

  • The visa holder receives a shorter visa period than what the employer applied for and sponsored them for
  • The employee starts working for you but leaves their employment to work for another sponsor
  • The employee leaves the position before the end date mentioned on their assigned CoS
  • If you have paid the fees associated with a medium or large sponsor but have notified the UKVI you qualify as a small organisation 

Sponsors will obtain a partial or full refund within 90 days of:

  • Informing the UKVI that the worker has not come to work for your business
  • The expiration date on the worker’s CoS if the worker doesn’t use it to apply for a visit
  • The date the visa application is withdrawn or rejected
  • The date you assign the CoS if you had already notified the UKVI that you’re now a small sponsor

On the other hand, there are many fees associated with the process that are non-refundable, these include: 

  • The cost of assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship
  • The annual Healthcare surcharge 
  • The visa application fee 
  • The costs of using the priority service if applicable

How can Nation.better assist you?

At Nation.better we understand the process of hiring international talent can be difficult and confusing so we are here to help with all aspects of the immigration process from start to finish. We ensure our fast result-driven services allow your business experiences peace of mind and minimal workload throughout the process of hiring overseas talent. 


Our team of regulated immigration specialists can offer your hospitality business seamless immigration solutions at affordable prices so you can focus on what really matters – your business.

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All visa candidates must be assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to complete their visa application. Without a valid CoS the visa application will likely be refused. It costs sponsors £199 to assign a CoS to their preferred candidate. At Nation.better we can assist sponsors to assign CoS correctly to avoid their candidate’s visa rejection. 

There are two types of sponsor licences to sponsor hospitality workers, including the ‘Worker Licence’ and ‘Temporary Worker Licence’. The worker licence allows businesses to hire skilled workers for long-term or permanent positions in several industries including the Hospitality sector. Whilst the temporary worker licence applies to sponsors looking to hire temporary staff, this route is commonly for volunteering opportunities or job shadowing and is not available for the Skilled Worker visa route. Click here for further information

Businesses looking to obtain a Sponsor Licence are subject to a number of eligibility criteria, requirements and responsibilities. Some of these responsibilities include maintaining detailed records of sponsored employees, reporting organisational changes to the Home Office, assigning Certificates of Sponsorship and much more. For further details, please consult our guide on maintaining your sponsorship licence and our compliance services.

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