Choosing not to hire an international employee because of the immigration fee associated with the visa application procedure may constitute a form of discrimination.

In contrast to the “taking control of our borders” rhetoric during the Brexit debate, the criteria for roles eligible for sponsorship through “work permits” have significantly lowered. As a result, it is now possible to sponsor more junior and lower-paying positions.

Questions of Cost

The recent announcement by the UK government regarding an increase in visa application fees has prompted numerous companies to reevaluate the expenses associated with hiring foreign workers, particularly those in junior and less skilled positions.

This rise in fees is leading employers to encounter challenges in financial planning and, understandably, to question the necessity of sponsoring junior employees. The visa process costs could potentially amount to 20-40% of their annual salary. For instance, a family of four seeking a five-year visa to the UK may face government fees exceeding £23,000, with an additional £2,000 for priority processing. All of this is before factoring in the expected increase in the immigration health surcharge fee.

Potential Discrimination

An employer’s choice not to hire an overseas worker due to the visa process costs may be considered a form of potential discrimination. Employers must avoid unlawful discrimination against current staff members and prospective job applicants. In certain situations, there may be valid reasons for treating someone less favourably or causing a group of individuals a disadvantage. People commonly refer to this potential defence as “objective justification.”It’s important to note that such justifications have limitations, and one must demonstrate them as “a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.” Legitimate aims could encompass the economic and operational necessities of the business, among other factors.