UK: Limits on non-EU Migration - Part 2

Last Updated: 5 July 2010
Article by Caron Pope, Louise Carson and Siobhan Owers

Following our Law-Now of 28 June, further information has been provided on the temporary cap effective from 19 July and on the consultation process ahead of permanent changes scheduled for April 2011.

Tier 2 (General)

In a letter to Sponsors, the UKBA has confirmed the following:

  • The number of Tier 2 (General) Certificates of Sponsorship ("CoS") will be reduced.
  • The number of CoS used in the equivalent period last year (19 July 2009 to 1 April 2010) will form the basis of Sponsor's quota.  While we anticipate that each Sponsor's Tier 2 (General) CoS allocation will be reduced by at least 5% to achieve the Government's objective, the basis of the 5% figure and the split of the cap between Tiers 1 and 2 is still unclear.
  • All Sponsors who used more than 2 CoS during this period will be expected to use less for the equivalent period (July 2010 – April 2011).
  • The Sponsor Licensing Unit will contact Sponsors to let them know how their current allocation will be affected

Outstanding points

1. Can a Sponsor "appeal" against the reduced allocation?

The UKBA letter to Sponsors confirms that:

"We want to ensure your business continues to thrive and should you encounter any problems, please let us know"...

Whether this can be taken to mean that there is scope for some Sponsors to escape the quota remains to be seen.

What steps should Sponsors be taking now?

With a little over 2 weeks before the quota is imposed, time is of the essence.  We would recommend the following:

  • Sponsors should review business plans and resourcing projections to assess whether it will need to recruit more new employees from overseas e.g. for specific projects, increased graduate level intake
  • Sponsors should check the number of Tier 2 (General) CoS used between July 2009 to April 2010.  If no record of last year's allocation has been kept internally, (this information is not available via the SMS), Sponsors should write immediately to the Sponsor Licensing Unit for this information. We would recommend that the Authorising Officer makes this request.
  • If a 5-10% reduction in Tier 2 (General) CoS will affect a Sponsor's ability to recruit skilled workers, this should be flagged immediately in written representations to the Sponsor Licensing Unit.
  • Sponsors should also examine whether there are any other solutions to enable them to fill key vacancies without using up their Tier 2 (General) allocation for example 
  • In-country switch to Tier 1 (General) (no cap on in country applications).
  • Use of Tier 1 (Post Study Work) for graduate hires (no cap) although there is a potential issue as to how they could be retained in the long-term.

2. Meaning of "used"?

We are seeking clarification as to the definition of a "used" CoS.  Sponsors will obviously be adversely impacted if "used" refers to a CoS assigned in error or withdrawn as opposed to a CoS which a migrant has used to obtain their visa or grant of leave to take up the role with the Sponsor.


The Government has launched two consultations to obtain the views of business users on these proposed changes.

Details of the UKBA consultation can be found at here

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) consultation may be found at here.

CMS Cameron McKenna will, as during the 2009 consultation rounds, submit a response as well as contributing to various industry /sector group responses.

Please feel free to contact any member of the Immigration Team if you would like to feed in your comments and/or require assistance with submitting your response.


Clearly the devil will be in the detail.  However, media coverage suggests that Government support for the cap is mixed and that the objective of reducing net migration may well be met by economic conditions without the need for any further significant reduction imposed by Government.

Business leaders are unanimous in voicing their concerns that a permanent cap will adversely impact on the ability of both the private and public sectors to fill vacancies which cannot be met by the resident labour market.

Participating in the consultation process can bring results.   The MAC demonstrated its willingness to listen to business during the last consultation process and in particular took on board the importance of preserving the ICT category.  While restrictions were imposed, these did not impact on the business communities global mobility needs or detract from the UK's ability to project itself as an international business hub.

Participating in the consultation is critical for any Sponsor.  We will again play a key role in this process and would welcome the opportunity to work with our clients and contacts.

We will provide further updates and guidance as further information and clarification is provided.

This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron McKenna's free online information service. To register for Law-Now, please go to

Law-Now information is for general purposes and guidance only. The information and opinions expressed in all Law-Now articles are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to give professional or legal advice. All Law-Now information relates to circumstances prevailing at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments.

The original publication date for this article was 01/07/2010.

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