No more mates’ rates for Europeans applying for UK work visas

25th February 2022 Immigration

The UK will no longer offer visa fee concessions to eligible European nationals under the Council of Europe’s Social Charter 1961 (commonly known as the “European Social Charter”). This short blog provides an insight into what this means and how it affects European nationals and UK businesses.

European Social Charter

The European Social Charter is a treaty that guarantees fundamental social and economic rights as a counterpart to the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”). The Council of Europe views it as “an essential component of the continent’s human rights architecture”. The UK has signed and brought the European Social Charter into legal effect, along with the following countries:

 Austria

 Denmark

 Hungary

 Luxembourg

 Poland

 Belgium

 Finland

 Iceland

 Malta

 Portugal

 Croatia

 France

 Ireland*

 Netherlands

 Slovak Republic

 Cyprus

 Germany

 Italy

 North Macedonia

 Spain

 Czech Republic

 Greece

 Latvia

 Norway

 Sweden

 

 

 

 

 Turkey

*Note: Irish citizens generally do not need a visa to work in the UK.

Article 18(2) of the European Social Charter contains an obligation on countries to make it easier, through fewer formalities and reduced fees, for persons to move to those countries for work. However, in July 2021, the UK revoked its acceptance of Article 18(2) and this will take effect on 26th February 2022.

Fee concessions under Article 18(2)

Currently, in order to meet its obligation under Article 18(2), the UK provides fee concessions to persons from the above countries who are applying for a UK visa through an eligible immigration work route. These routes are as follows:

 Skilled Worker

 Intra-Company Graduate Trainee

 Temporary Work - Religious Worker

 Temporary Work - Government Authorised Exchange Worker

 Health and Care Worker

 T2 Minister of Religion

 Temporary Work - Charity Worker

 Innovator

 Graduate

 International Sportsperson

 Temporary Work - Creative and Sporting Worker

 Start-up

 Intra-Company Transfer

 Temporary Work - Seasonal Worker

 Temporary Work - International Agreement Worker

 Global Talent

 

Hence, if for example you are an Italian national applying for a UK skilled worker visa, you and your prospective employer are currently eligible for the visa fee concessions. Such a person would benefit from a £55 reduction on their visa application fee, and their sponsor would benefit from a full fee exemption when issuing a Certificate of Sponsorship, which would usually cost £199.

However, those applying for a visa on or after 26th February 2022 will not have reduced fees.

UK drifts further away from Europe

We know that the UK Conservative Government has had a long-standing interest in withdrawing the UK from the European Convention on Human Rights, a Council of Europe convention, and introducing a new so-called ‘British bill of rights’. It follows that the Government appear as keen to limit the Council of Europe’s influence in the UK on other related matters too – the revocation of fee concessions under Article 18(2) of the European Social Charter is an example.

The move may have an effect on the UK attracting workers from Europe, with the number of European citizens searching for work in the UK having already fallen significantly since Brexit. This will be unwelcome news to many sectors, particularly the health and care sector where businesses on tight budgets are ramping up their recruitment of candidates from outside the UK due to a lack of suitable candidates from within the UK.

We are a specialist immigration department based in London. If you have any questions regarding this article or would like to discuss an immigration query, please feel free to contact us by telephone on 0203 675 7600 or by email.

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Audrey L'Etang is a Paralegal located in Londonin our Immigration department

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Michael Rimola is a Trainee Solicitor located in Londonin our Trainee Solicitors department

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