Provisional change to allocation process of Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship

The Home Office has proposed to change the operation of the Tier 2 (General) limit to maximise the number of places which can be allocated each month, within the overall annual limit of 20,700.

The Tier 2 (General) annual limit was first introduced in April 2011 and applies to Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS). RCoS' are needed to sponsor migrants who apply for Tier 2 outside the UK, except very senior staff earning £155,300 or more. RCoS' are also required to sponsor Tier 4 dependants who apply to switch into Tier 2 in the UK.

If the limit is oversubscribed, as it has been in each of the past three months, applications for RCoS' are prioritised according to a points table. The available RCoS' are allocated based on the highest points scores. Points are awarded based on the following criteria: the job is on the Shortage Occupation list, is a PhD-level occupation, and the salary on offer. Currently the points bands in the table are relatively wide; for example, jobs paying £32,000 to £45,999.99 all score 15 points for salary.

Provisional points allocation table Following a Home Office meeting which LDS and other immigration law firms attended in June, the Home Office now intends to increase the number of salary bands as in the provisional points table below:

Type of job Points Salary Points
Shortage occupation130£100,000 - £155,299.9960
£75,000 - £99,999.9955
PhD-level occupation code and job passes Resident Labour Market Test or an exception applies75£70,000 - £74,999.9950
£65,000 - £69,999.9945
£60,000 - £64,999.9940
£55,000 - £59,999.9935
£50,000 - £54,999.9930
Job passes Resident Labour Market Test or an exception applies20£45,000 - £49,999.9925
£44,000 - £44,999.9924
£43,000 - £43,999.9923
£42,000 - £42,999.9922
£41,000 - £41,999.9921
£40,000 - £40,999.9920
£39,000 - £39,999.9919
£38,000 - £38,999.9918
£37,000 - £37,999.9917
£36,000 - £36,999.9916
£35,000 - £35,999.9915
£34,000 - £34,999.9914
£33,000 - £33,999.9913
£32,000 - £32,999.9912
£31,000 - £31,999.9911
£30,000 - £30,999.9910
£29,000 - £29,999.999
£28,000 - £28,999.998
£27,000 - £27,999.997
£26,000 - £26,999.996
£25,000 - £25,999.995
£24,000 - £24,999.994
£23,000 - £23,999.993
£22,000 - £22,999.992
£20,800 - £21,999.991

This change would mean, for example, that in June the Home Office would have been able to allocate RCoS' to all non-shortage occupations with a salary of £34,000 or more, rather than £46,000 using the existing table. The prioritisation given to shortage occupations and PhD-level occupations is unchanged.

The new table is provisional until the necessary changes to the Immigration Rules have been laid before Parliament, but the Home Office has announced its intention to apply the new bands to the next monthly RCoS allocation meeting (on Monday 12 October), applications for which have been open since Sunday 6 September.

This month's allocation meeting (on Friday 11 September) will continue to use the existing points table, which is detailed here in the Home Office Tier 2 and 5 sponsor guidance. Sponsors should not experience any changes in the monthly application process for RCoS' via the sponsorship management system.

Re-allocation of unused RCoS'
The Home Office also intends to make one further change relating to the annual limit. Under the existing Immigration Rules, RCoS' must be assigned by sponsors within three months of being granted by the Home Office monthly panel or they will expire. The change relates to enabling the Home Office to return any such unused RCoS' to the limit, increasing the number of RCoS available in the next month.

Conclusion
This re-allocation process was used by the Home Office informally last month for the August panel meeting, and once implemented and in conjunction with the narrower salary bands should enable those earning lower salaries a greater chance of obtaining sufficient points to be granted a RCoS.