The UK Government re-introduced an interim limit on Tier 2 (General) visa sponsorships on 21 December 2010 that will be in effect until 05 April 2011. The total number of certificates of sponsorship that can be issued is 10,832. This includes certificates for initial applications and extensions. The permanent immigration limit comes into place in April 2011.
If you are a UK employer hiring non-EU workers under Tier 2 (General), any certificates of sponsorship that you assign to a prospective worker will be counted as "used" and deducted from your total allocation, even if it was assigned in error or not used by the migrant worker.
You can make unlimited numbers of applications under Tier 2 (Intra-company transfer), Tier 2 (Minister of religion) and Tier 2 (Sportsperson) as these categories are not included under the UK Government's Tier 2 interim limit effective until 05 April 2011.
The total 10,832 certificates includes those that have already been allocated to sponsors. A small number have been set aside by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) for exceptional circumstances. This includes certificates for existing sponsors who require additional certificates in exceptional circumstances during the period of the interim limit or new sponsors who were licensed during the interim limit period.
UKBA has not stated how large is the available pool of certificates of sponsorship available in exceptional circumstances.
"When we approve a new sponsor license, we will initially give the sponsor a zero allocation of certificates. Existing sponsors may also have received a zero allocation for the current period," said UKBA.