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Important changes to the Tier 2 Work Permit: cap on the number of sponsored migrants

22 July 2010

On 19 July 2010 the UK Border Agency introduced an interim limit on applications submitted under Tier 1 (General) and Tier 2 (General) of the Points Based System. This limit will be in place until 31 March 2011 and will be reviewed on a regular basis to reflect the changing economic circumstances.

This article will focus on the cap imposed under the Tier 2 scheme. In a nutshell, it applies to the number of Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) used under Tier 2 General category and it will affect initial applications as well as extension ones. The above limit, however, does not apply to those migrants extending or making an initial application for leave to enter or remain under the Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer, Ministers of Religion, Sportspeople. Further, it does not affect individuals who intend to apply as dependants of Tier 2 holders.

The interim cap for UK employers wishing to sponsor migrants under the Tier 2 Scheme has been calculated by assessing the CoS usage of each sponsor for the equivalent period from 19 July 2009 – 31 March 2010 and by applying a reduction to each sponsor who used 2 or more CoS during this period.

All licensed Tier 2 (General) sponsors will be notified by the UKBA of the new CoS allocation cap imposed for the interim period.

There will be a small number of the CoS reserved for exceptional cases however, they will be only available to those who meet the criteria specified below:

  • a new sponsor licensed during the period of the interim limit; or
  • an existing sponsor who requires additional CoS in exceptional circumstances

Some sponsors will be given a ZERO allocation for the interim period. This means that although they will remain licensed by the UKBA and will be able to continue employing existing migrants, they will not able to assign a CoS to any new migrants or those employees who may require an extension.

However, employers with zero CoS allocation who still wish to sponsor migrants or require additional CoS during the period of the interim limit might be able to apply for exceptional consideration.

B -rated Sponsors

Existing sponsors downgraded to a B-rating will not be allocated any CoS until they demonstrate their commitment to make improvements by signing up a sponsorship action plan. They will not be able to employ or renew existing visa for foreign nationals and will not be eligible to apply for exceptional consideration whilst they remain B-rated.

New Sponsors

During the interim period the UKBA will continue to process sponsor licence applications however, there will be a limited allocation of CoS available to new sponsors with some sponsors not being able to employ any migrants during the interim period.

Exceptional consideration

Those sponsors who do not have any CoS available on the Sponsor Management System can apply for additional CoS under the exceptional consideration.  The number of CoS are available for exceptional cases is limited and it is likely that most requests will be refused. The overall allocation of CoS available for exceptional cases will be divided across the months of the interim limit.

All requests will be assessed and ranked against the following criteria (starting with the highest ranking):

  • Tier 2(G) /Work Permit extension for an existing sponsor
  • Tier 2(G) /Work Permit extension for a new sponsor
  • Positions on Shortage Occupation List for an existing sponsor
  • Positions on Shortage Occupation List for a new sponsor
  • Other positions for an existing sponsors
  • Other positions for a new sponsors

All requests for exceptional consideration will be considered by a panel of UK Border Agency managers meeting on a monthly basis on the first working day of the month.

Sponsors will be notified of the outcome of their request for exceptional consideration within five working days from the panel's meeting. The panel's decision is final and will not attract a right of appeal.


Migra & Co is a private immigration company, regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC), reference number F200900038. This website is not a government website and as such, we are not linked or affiliated with the UK Visas and Immigration. We offer expert legal advice and flexible tailored solutions to both private and corporate clients to ensure that their immigration needs are met. If you wish to download or prepare a UK visa application form, you can do so free of charge by visiting the Official UKVI website.