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UNITED KINGDOM – Migrant Cap Reached for First Time

The government's immigration cap for non-EU national skilled workers, which applies to positions earning over £20,800, has been hit for the first time since its introduction in 2011.

What Happened?

Under the Tier 2 scheme, there is an annual allocation of 20,700 certificates of sponsorship, which equates to 1650 per month. If allocations are under-subscribed in a particular month, the surplus is carried over to the next month.

However, in the month of June, a combination of a low surplus plus an unanticipated spike in application numbers meant that there was insufficient allocation available to grant all requests.

Applications affected are those made under Tier 2 General outside the UK only. Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfers (ICTs), graduates switching to Tier 2 and Tier 2 Changes of Employment are not affected.

How Does it Work?

The Home Office considers requests for certificates of sponsorship on a points basis.

Each application is awarded a number of points based on salary, and allocated in descending order of score. For example, roles with a salary between £32k and £45k are awarded 45 points; roles with a salary between £46k and £75k are awarded 50 points.

This month, the Home Office had a sufficient number of certificates available to allocate to all application requests scoring 50 points, but an insufficient number remaining to allocate to all requests in the points band below. As a result, no applications with a score of 45 points or below were approved this month.

Who will be Affected?

The Home Office has not confirmed how many applications were rejected, so it is not yet possible to estimate how many application re-submissions there might be in July and whether the same outcome should be anticipated.

But a knock-on effect is anticipated; in future, a qualifying application for a restricted certificate of sponsorship may not be granted on first request.

Broadly speaking, because of the greater points score awarded for roles on the shortage occupation lists, those with higher-end salaries, and PhD positions, such jobs may be protected from any visa squeeze for the time being.

Those likely to be affected, in the short term at least, are roles that pay the lowest salaries, since lower salaried roles are awarded fewer points.

Action Items

  • Be prepared for the possibility of a qualifying application for a certificate of sponsorship under Tier 2 General not being granted on first request.

The information in this alert was provided by Dearson Winyard International.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this immigration alert has been abridged from laws, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the applicability of this information, please contact Peregrine © 2021 Peregrine Immigration Management Ltd.