Tier 2 - sponsors to act by 11 March
The Government has announced that new immigration rules relating
to tier 2 will take effect from 6 April 2011. Although the new
rules and accompanying detailed guidance are unlikely to be
available until mid-March, the statement of intent published by the
Government outlines the following changes:
A. Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) will be split into two
- unrestricted; and
How will it work?
Unrestricted CoS allocation
This will apply to the following:
- tier 2 Intra Company Transferees (ICT);
- tier 2 migrants extending their stay in country;
- tier 2 migrants switching in country;
- migrants in other categories switching into tier 2 (general)
(eg from tier 1 (post study worker, etc));
- migrants who will fill vacancies where the salary is £150,000
- tier 2 sports people and ministers of religion.
The UKBA is currently contacting sponsors to ascertain their CoS
requirements for 6 April 2011 until 5 April 2012. Therefore,
sponsors need to determine how many unrestricted CoS they will
require during this period and submit this information to the UKBA
(via email) detailing their requirements before 17.00 on 11
March 2011. In order to prepare this document sponsors
will need to spend some time considering the numbers of tier 2
extensions, in country switches etc.
Failure to submit the required information to the UKBA will
result in the sponsor CoS allocation being set to zero as of 6
April, even if a sponsor currently has a CoS allocation.
If you have not yet received an email in relation to this, please
click here for full
Sponsors will be able to assign CoS that fall within the
categories set out above as normal and without having to obtain
prior permission from the UKBA. The CoS that are given to sponsors
will be confirmed before 6 April but cannot be used before 6 April.
Restricted CoS allocation
This will apply to new hires outside the UK on salaries of less
The annual limit on restricted CoS will be 20,700. The
20,700 available CoS will be split between 4,200 in April and
In a throw back to the old work permit system businesses which
need to hire an individual using a restricted CoS will be required
to apply to the UKBA. Requests will be considered on a monthly
basis and the monthly allocation will be given to those who score
the most points. Migrants must score at least 32 points.
Points are awarded for the proposed salary and the route
used. The salary range is between £20,000 and £149,999 and
routes include shortage occupation, PhD level posting together with
resident labour market test and resident labour market test
Example: a company has undertaken a recruitment search and has
found that it is unable to find a candidate in the UK who can
fill a PhD level post. The salary on offer is £24,000.
The total points awarded will be 56. The points are awarded as
PhD level posting together with a resident labour market test: 50
Salary: 6 points.
Even if the minimum 32 points is scored there is no guarantee
that a CoS will be allocated to the sponsor by the UKBA upon
application, as this will be dependent on demand. Unsuccessful
applications will not be rolled over and the sponsor will need to
The full CoS allocation points table can be found in the statement of intent.
What sponsors need to do
Sponsors will need to check the UKBA guidance and determine which
category applies before they assign a CoS. If the migrant
falls into the unrestricted category, the sponsor can assign the CoS
providing it has an allocation.
However, if the migrant falls into the restricted category, the
sponsor will not be able to assign a CoS from its allocation
and will have to apply to the UKBA for a 'restricted' CoS.
Sponsors who fail to comply with the new system risk having
their sponsor licence revoked.
B. Changes to tier 2 Intra Company Transfer (ICT) route
Tier 2 (ICT) posts will be divided between short term and long
Short term transfers
- maximum of 12 months;
- migrant cannot switch from tier 2 (ICT) into tier 2
- migrant must return overseas for a minimum of 12 months before
applying again for a tier 2 visa;
- salary on offer must be at least £24,000.
Long term transfers
- maximum of three years with the ability to extend for two
- migrant cannot switch from tier 2 (ICT) into tier 2
- migrant cannot extend beyond five years;
- after five years in the UK the migrant must return overseas for
a minimum of 12 months before
applying for a tier 2 (ICT)
visa again; and
- salary on offer must be at least £40,000.
C. Raising the skills level
Skill level: The minimum skill level will be raised from NVQ 3 to
graduate level for tier 2 (general) and tier 2 (ICT). This
means that many occupations will no longer qualify for sponsorship
under tier 2. Please see appendix A on the statement of intent
(click here) for a list of the
graduate level occupation codes.
English level: The minimum
English language requirement will increase for tier 2 (general) from
basic to intermediate. This is equivalent to B1 on the Common
European Framework of Reference for languages.
Points to note:
Is a tier 2 CoS issued before 6 April 2011 still valid for
applications submitted on or after 6 April 2011?
The Statement of Intent makes it clear that the new
tier 2 changes will not apply to applicataions submitted
before 6 April 2011.
The Statement of Intent also states that the new
rules will apply to applications submitted on or after 6 April even
if the CoS is issued before 6 April. Since then a
caseworker at UKBA has provided conflicting information and has
stated that a CoS issued before 6
April 2011 will still be regarded as valid even if the application
for entry clearance / leave to remain is submitted on or after 6
April. Due to the conflicting information provided and our concerns
regarding CoS that have already been issued we contacted the UKBA.
They stated that they are still awaiting clarification on this point
from their policy advisors. Once a response is provided to
Penningtons on this point we will provide a further
Tier 1 (general)
Although tier 1 (general) will close on 6 April 2011, individuals
who already have leave in this category will be able to extend in
country after this date.
As it currently stands individuals on a tier 1 (general) can
still apply for settlement after they have been in the UK
for five years in an eligible category. However, the
Government is proposing to introduce a new requirement making it
necessary for migrants to score points against the same criteria as
their last application.
Any individual who is already in the UK in a category that does
not lead to settlement and wants, and is able to switch in country,
should consider doing so now as the routes to settlement
Migrants applying for entry clearance or leave to remain in a new
category after 6 April 2011 could be subject to the new rules on
settlement. These rules will commence from April 2011 and will
include minimum income requirements for individuals on tier 1
(general), tier 2 (general) and work permit holders. New
knowledge of labour and life in the UK requirements will also be
introduced as well as new criminality test requirements.
Therefore, if any individuals are eligible for settlement before
April, it is recommended that they submit their application as soon
- sponsors need to ascertain how many unrestricted CoS they
- if restricted CoS are needed for April, the sponsors need to
prepare documents ready for mid March
- skill levels should be reviewed for all new posts in light of
stricter criteria (this does not apply to
under tier 2 with the same or different sponsor);
- all possible switches should be looked at on an urgent basis
and submitted before 6 April if
If you wish to view the full statement of intent, please click here.