July 22, 2010

As Pro-Link GLOBAL clients know, from our Global Brief of 29 June 2010, the recently elected coalition UK government has introduced caps, or quotas, for UK immigration approvals.  Full details of the cap will not be announced until September 2011, but in the meantime, an interim cap for Tier 1 and Tier 2 (General) has been introduced, effective 19 July 2010 until 31 March 2011.  Additional guidelines for the interim cap have recently been announced.  It is important to note that the interim cap does not affect applications made in the Tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT) category.

Aim of the Interim Limit

The aim of the interim limit is to reduce total number of Tier 1 and Tier 2 (General) approvals by 5% compared to the same period last year.

TIER 2 (General) 

Companies listed as sponsors for overseas workers will have already received letters/emails from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) dated 1 July 2010, giving them details of their reduced allocations of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) under the interim limit.  The interim limit will be applied to Tier 2 as follows:

  • The reduced allocation will be calculated based on the number of CoS issued by the sponsor during the same period (19 July to 31 March) in 2009;
  • All sponsors who used more than 2 CoS during this period in 2009 will receive a reduced allocation.
  • The interim limit will also apply to extensions in the Tier 2 (General) category.  This is contrary to previous advice from the UKBA, which indicated hat extensions would be unaffected;
  • The interim limit does not apply to Tier 2 Intra Company Transfers (ICTs), Ministers of Religion, Sportspeople or Tier 2 dependent applications;
  • Companies who have been allocated zero spaces under the interim limit may continue to sponsor existing employees who hold leave to remain, but may not apply for new CoS or extensions of CoS.

Exceptional Consideration for Tier 2 (General) 

Companies who have received zero spaces or who have a strong need to employ more overseas workers under Tier 2 (General) than they have spaces for may apply for additional CoS under “exceptional consideration“.  These applications must meet specific, stringent criteria.

A limited number of CoS are available for exceptional cases and it is likely that most requests will be unsuccessful.

Requests for exceptional consideration will be considered and ranked against the following criteria in descending order of importance:

  1. A work permit or Tier 2 (General) extension for an existing sponsor.
  2. A work permit or Tier 2 (General) extension for a new sponsor.
  3. A new shortage occupation post for an existing sponsor.
  4. A new shortage occupation post for a new sponsor.
  5. A non-shortage occupation post for an existing sponsor.
  6. A non-shortage occupation post for a new sponsor

The criteria for exceptional consideration are very tight; Pro-Link GLOBAL will provide our clients with advice on a case by case basis.

New Sponsors for Tier 2 (General)

Companies who are not yet listed as sponsors may still apply for sponsor licences but will initially be issued with zero spaces for allocation of CoS under the interim limit.  Sponsors will need to apply on a separate form to request CoS.  All requests received by the UK Border Agency each month will be assessed against strict criteria.

TIER 1

The government has made two changes to how Tier 1 (General) – the category for highly skilled migrants – is administered: the introduction of a monthly cap on new applications and an increase in qualifying points required.  These changes apply to all initial Tier 1 (General) applications paid for on or after 19 July 2010, whether they are made inside or outside the UK.

The Introduction of a Monthly Cap on all New Tier 1 (General) Applications 

The monthly cap limits how many Tier 1 (General) approvals will be issued each month.  Applicants who apply for a Tier 1 (General) approval after the cap has been reached will have their applications postponed until the following month.  When the cap has been reached, the UK Border Agency will announce this via their website and, of course, Pro-Link GLOBAL will keep our clients informed.

The Increase of Points Required to Qualify Under Tier 1 to 100 (from 95) 

From 19 July 2010, the number of points required for an initial Tier 1 (General) application has increased from 95 to 100. However, additionally:

  • The points awarded to those with previous earnings of £150,000 have increased from 75 to 80; and
  • The points awarded to those who have an eligible MBA have increased from 75 to 80.
  • The points requirement will remain at 95 points for applicants who are currently in the UK under one of the following highly skilled worker categories:
    • Tier 1 (General)
    • Highly Skilled Migrant Programme
    • Self-employed lawyer
    • Writer, composer or artist

Have Your Say 

The government has launched a consultation into how the cap should work and what the numbers should be.

Employers are encouraged to respond to the consultation, by the deadline of 17 September 2010, and can access the full report here and can answer consultation questions online here   Pro-Link GLOBAL will be pleased to work with our clients and partners on responses; please contact Sophy King onsophy.king@pro-linkglobal.com for further information.

The government has also asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the Home Office appointed independent advisory body, to launch an additionalconsultation   which will run until 7 September.  Again, Pro-Link GLOBAL encourages employers to respond to the MAC and is very happy to assist with responses.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS 

  • If your company is an existing Tier 2 sponsor, review the letter/email dated 1 July 2010 you will have received from the UKBA – this will tell you how many places you have been allocated under Tier 2 (General) during the interim limit period;
  • If you think that your company will require additional spaces, note that these will only be granted under exceptional circumstances; contact Pro-Link GLOBAL for case specific advice;
  • Note that Tier 1 (General) applications will be subject to a monthly cap and therefore that processing times are likely to be significantly extended;
  • Points requirements for Tier 1 (General) have been increased; however, points allocated for previous earnings of over £150,000 or of applications with a eligible MBA have also been increased, so applicants with these attributes will be unaffected.

Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader 

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification.

Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with the UK Border Agency to provide this Global BRIEF alert to you.