Interim Limit – Tier 2 (General) Scheme

From Monday 19th July 2010, the UK Border Agency will be introducing a limit to the number of applications under the Tier 2 (General) scheme. It is worth noting that, for the moment at least, all other sub-tiers of Tier 2 (including Tier 2 (Intra-Company Transfers) are exempted from this limit. This is an interim limit being introduced to stop a ‘rush’ of applications before a permanent cap is introduced in April 2011.

It is not yet completely clear how this interim limit will operate, although it is apparent that it will centre on the granting of Certificates of Sponsorship quotas to Licensed Sponsors. In order to sponsor an individual under Tier 2, a company must hold a Sponsor’s Licence and have a quota of unused Certificates of Sponsorship. It appears that over the coming months (at least until April 2011), the UK Border Agency will tightly monitor and control the granting of these quotas, with priority going to the following:

  • New sponsors who have not yet sponsored any migrant workers;
  • Sponsors who wish to extend an employee’s existing Work Permit or Tier 2 visa;
  • Sponsors who wish to employ migrant workers to perform Shortage Occupation roles.

The UK Border Agency has stated that it will be publishing details regarding the exact way in which sponsor’s quota requests are handled on Monday 19th July 2010.

As the limit is going to work around the issuing of Certificates of Sponsorship, it appears that once an employer has a specific quota of Certificates, it is free to issue these as it wishes, and the individuals concerned will not face any further difficulties in obtaining their visas. Likewise, any individual currently holding an assigned Certificate of Sponsorship will not be affected by the limit. This being said, it is important to note that if a Certificate of Sponsorship is issued incorrectly or a visa application is unsuccessful, the Certificate will often be rendered ‘used’. From the 19th July it may be harder to obtain a new Certificate to replace the ‘used’ one.

Contrary to the supposed objectives of this policy, this limit will affect those applying for Tier 2 (General) visas from within the UK in exactly the same way as it will affect those applying from outside of the UK.

The UK Border Agency has not yet confirmed the exact number to which they will be limiting the issuing of Certificates of Sponsorship under the Tier 2 (General) scheme, although this is thought to be around 5% less than the equivalent period last year.

We would advise all employers holding Sponsor’s Licences to immediately request a sufficient number of Certificates of Sponsorship to see them through the 12 months that the allocation is valid. Similarly, we would advise all employers who are considering sponsoring a migrant worker in the next year but who do not currently hold a Sponsor’s Licence to apply for a Licence as soon as possible. Although this limit may seem severe, it is likely that the permanent limit to be introduced in April 2011 will be even more so.