Monthly Tier 2 quotas reached, but demand slowing down

16 Sep 15

UNITED KINGDOM

IMPACT – MEDIUM

What is the change? The monthly cap for Tier 2 Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS) has been surpassed for the fourth consecutive month.

What does the change mean? While the monthly quota was surpassed once again, minimum salaries for successful applicants were down significantly in August and September compared to June and July. This suggests that the spike in demand over the summer is abating. While this news is welcome, the U.K.’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is in the midst of considering wide-ranging changes to skilled-migration policies, including raising salary thresholds and limiting Tier 2 to genuine skills shortages and “highly specialist experts.” Such changes could make the Tier 2 route significantly more limited.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Tier 2 RCoS work visas.
  • Who is affected: Employers and non-EU nationals applying for Tier 2 RCoS work visas.
  • Business impact: The lower demand for RCoSs in September compared to June and July seems to be good news for employers who need to sponsor employee visas for employees in the £20,000-32,000 salary brackets.
  • Next steps: Companies should contact their BAL professional to discuss strategies and the options that are available in the next few months.

Background: September marked the fourth straight month that the monthly cap on Tier 2 RCoS work visas was exceeded.

The annual quota is 20,700 with visas allocated on a monthly basis. The quota was exceed for the first time in June and was exceeded in each of the following three months. Minimum salaries and the number of required points for successful applicants, however, were down in August and September compared to June and July.

Month Minimum Salary Minimum Score
June £46,000/year 50
July £32,000/year 45
August £24,000/year 36
September £28,000/year 39

The Home Office moved to address the recent oversubscription this month by announcing that it would introduce a greater range of salary bands within the points-awarding table. The changes have not taken effect yet, but are aimed at maximizing the number of places that can be allocated each month. They are a welcome step toward providing some flexibility and reducing the backlogs in applications. It also appears that based on the minimum salaries for successful applicants in the past two months, backlogs may soon be cleared.

That said, employers should note that the changes MAC is considering could impose significant restrictions on the Tier 2 route. The MAC is soliciting public comments until Sept. 25 and is expected to issue a report in mid-December.

BAL Analysis: Employers should work closely with their BAL professional on individual Tier 2 RCoS work visa applications. Longer onboarding times for Tier 2 migrants with lower salaries should be expected, even with the drops in minimum salaries in August and September. As for the MAC proposals, BAL is working with clients and associations interested in offering comments or recommendations. Please contact the BAL professionals whom you work with on a regular basis with any questions.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact uk@balglobal.com.

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