UK: Annual Limit on the Cap of Migrant Workers Announced

Last Updated: 25 November 2010
Article by Caron Pope, Louise Carson and Siobhan Owers

Following on from the MAC report published last  week, Theresa May made a statement in the House of Commons yesterday afternoon regarding the limits to be set for non EEA economic migrants from April 2011. The main points are:

Tier 2

1.    A cap of 21700 on skilled migration from outside the EEA with a cap of 20700 on Tier 2 applicants. This is a rise of over 7000 on the number of Tier 2 (Generals) currently available.

2.    Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) (ICT) applicants will not be included in the cap. However, ICT visas will only be granted for over 12 months if the individual is paid over £40,000 in the UK.  It is not clear whether allowances will be taken into account in calculating the salary. Further, a Tier 2 (ICT) migrant's stay will be restricted to 5 years.

3.    Tier 2 will be restricted to graduate occupations.

4.    There will be a pool of Tier 2 (General) CoS to be distributed to businesses on a monthly basis rather than pre allocating as under the interim limit.  However, the applicants "will be competing against other applicants for a visa to enter the UK and in months where the limit is oversubscribed those with the most points will qualify".  

5.    The cap will be reviewed annually.

Tier 1

6.    Tier 1 (General) route to be closed.

7.    Tier 1 (Investor) and Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) to be simplified.  These categories will not be included in the cap.

8.    A new category under Tier 1 ('Exceptional Talent') to be created for scientists, artists and academics who have achieved international recognition.  This is to be limited to 1000 a year.

Tier 4

9.    A consultation on Tier 4 to be launched which will also deal with Tier 1 (Post Study Work) with a view to restricting the number of students coming to study below degree level.  We would expect Tier 1 (Post Study Work) to be abolished.

Tier 5

10.    This Tier was not mentioned.


11.    The Home Secretary reiterated that the Government intends to break the link between temporary migration and settlement although no detail yet available.

12.    Confirmation provided that the Government would look at the family route to settlement and are likely to increase the time a person had to spend in the UK in this category from 2 years before they are permitted to setle in the UK.

Reports yesterday morning suggested that Ms May would set the cap at 43700 as recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee ('MAC').  There were approximately 22,000 Tier 2 (ICT)s last year and combining this number with the cap of 21700 on Tier 2 (General) applications, these figures reflect the top end of the MAC's recommendations.

Whilst yesterdays announcement was not as positive as previously hoped, we are pleased that the Home Secretary has responded to businesses concerns and confirmed that Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfers) for those earning over £40K are outside of the cap. However, without full guidance, it is difficult to assess to what extent this will impact UK businesses as ever the devil is in the detail. Most worrying is that in months where the quota is over subscribed (we would envisage most months!), applicants will be awarded a Certificate of Sponsorship only where they are in the top percentage point scorers. This will lead to a lack of certainty regarding whether a company can sponsor a migrant and inconsistency, as the number of points required to obtain a visa will vary on a monthly basis. We await clarity about how these points will be assessed and whether allowances will be taken into consideration in terms of calculating salary and will continue our lobbying activities and involvemnet in policy working groups to try to achieve a solution that works for business.

We are extremely disappointed that Tier 1 (General) has been abolished in its entirety as this provided a neat solution for employers who did not want to advertise a role under Tier 2, or who are not licensed as sponsors.  Despite reports that many Tier 1 (General) migrants have used this category to take low skilled jobs, at the other end of the spectrum, in our experience it has proved invaluable to blue chip employers wishing to bring the most highly skilled workers into the UK. We await confirmation that the scheme will remain open for those already in the UK on HSMP and Tier 1 (General). Whilst the abolition of this category is regrettable, we recognise that the additional Tier 2 (General) Certificate of Sponsorship available may help facilitate the moves of many key personnel into UK business.

Conclusion and Planning for the Future

The flexibility of our immigration system has been significantly curtailed and this message should be fed to managers throughout the business to manage expectations. In particular the following messages should be disseminated:

  • Tier 1 (General) is to be abolished
  • More Tier 2 (General) CoS's will be available but this will necessitate advertising in the Job Centre Plus and by one other method for 4 weeks. If a migrant candidate is identified who requires immigration permission, his application will form part of the monthly quota and will  be assessed against the pool of candidates who apply globally. There are therefore likely to be longer processing times and a certain lack of certainty regarding the ability to employ migrant workers in the UK.
  • Tier 2 (ICT)s are outside of the quota but limited to 12 months if the individual is paid under £40,000.  If the level of allowances that can be taken into account is scaled back, this will cause problems to employers who meet market rates through a combination of salary and allowances.

While it is hard to predict exactly what the immigration landscape will look like in the coming months it is clear that restrictions on immigration will remain a key concern for business. We will publish further updates as soon as details are released.

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 24/11/2010.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.