UK Tier 2 Visa Certificates of Sponsorship Cap Reached for Record Fifth Month!

Support migrant centric journalism today and donate

The Tier 2 CoS monthly allocation limit has once again been exceeded, extending the trend to a record fifth month in April! As a result, only certain prioritised applications have been granted such as those on the shortage occupation list, PhD level occupations, and cases where the salary is at least £50,000.  In many cases employers with tier 2 sponsorship licences are having to pay a salary of at least £50,000 a year to employ skilled workers on tier 2 visas based outside the UK.

Sanwar Ali comment:

Many employers including the National Health Service are being affected by this.  The salary rates are so high in many cases to gain enough points for a restricted CoS that many overseas workers desperately needed in the UK are unable to gain entry to the UK.   This is causing serious problems in the UK.  This affects tier 2 general visa applications for people who have to apply for an UK visa from outside the UK. Other options worth considering include the following:

  1. Employing people who are able to switch from within the UK such as tier 4 student visas on graduate level courses.
  2. Employing those on tier 2 general visas working for another employer who wish to change employer.
  3. Employing those on an UK visa category that allows switching from within the UK.
  4. Perhaps look at other visa categories such as the representative of an overseas business or tier 1 entrepreneur visa.
  5. Perhaps look at starting an office in Ireland and employ overseas workers under the Irish employment permit scheme, or employ overseas workers in another Country perhaps in Europe.
  6. In limited circumstances look at employing people under the tier 5 visa scheme for one to two years. 


Meanwhile those applications submitted by April 5, 2018 for Restricted CoS, where applicants are paid less than £50,000 per year, have been denied - unless the job position is a PhD-level vacancy, or featured on the UK’s Shortage Occupation List, or prioritised based on other circumstances.

Following the latest Tier 2 visa allocation meeting, the number of Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) available for May 2018 stands at 1,975, according to UK Visas and Immigration data. The department published its April report citing that its figures were correct as of 19 April, 2018.

The Tier 2 visa programme has featured heavily in the headlines recently, following a record fourth month in a row of the allocation limit being reached. As a result, UK employers have struggled to recruit non-EU workers due to a lack of availability of CoS.

March represented the fourth month in a row that the visa cap was reached, extending a trend that started in December 2017. Over the past four months, there have been widespread reports of an increase in visa refusal rates by the Home Office.

The trend has now stretched into April, leaving employers facing yet more struggles to recruit skilled, non-EU workers for crucial job vacancies.

Government urged to increase Tier 2 CoS allocation

Employers across all industry sectors are urging the government to increase the cap or ease Tier 2 CoS restrictions, amid a growing skills shortage. However, the Home Office has so far refused to budge.

The government department has reportedly sent out hundreds of emails to UK businesses and employers over the past four months, informing them that their applications for Tier 2 CoS had been declined.

Tech London Advocates, a non-profit organisation that serves the interests of technology entrepreneurs and London as technology hub, explained that it had written to immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, demanding that the annual 20,700 CoS limit be raised.

In a statement, the organisation said: “Mounting job vacancies in critical areas now threaten to halt growth and it is vital that UK businesses have access to the vast pool of skilled overseas workers that are needed to help fill Britain’s growing skills shortage.”

Tier 2 CoS criteria

An employer with a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence needs to apply for Certificates of Sponsorship for immigrants they wish to employ. Under the current UK immigration system, unused Tier 2 restricted CoS to employ people who are currently based outside the UK can be reclaimed after three months. This increases the availability of restricted CoS used.

However, the number of certificates reclaimed as not used and made available for the month of April totalled zero. Equally, there were no CoS carried over from March.

The April Tier 2 Certificate of Sponsorship allocation meeting took place on 11 April, 2018. All valid applications lodged by 5 April were successful, provided they scored 46 points or more.

The breakdown of Tier 2 CoS for the month of April looks like this:

Number of Tier 2 Certificates of Sponsorship from annual limit set aside for allocation meeting in April.


Balance of Certificates of Sponsorship carried over from previous month (March).


Number of certificates returned during previous month (March).


Number of certificates reclaimed as not used within three months.


Number of certificates granted by exceptional consideration outside of monthly allocation during previous month (March).


Total number of certificates assigned to Croatians in previous month (March).


Total number of Certificates of Sponsorship available for allocation in April.


Minimum point score for successful applications in April.


Total number of Certificates of Sponsorship granted in April.


Tier 2 (General – New hires under £159,600).


Tier 2 (General – Tier 4 dependant switching to Tier 2).


Number of certificates of sponsorship available for allocation in May 2018.


The next UK Visas and Immigration allocation meeting will take place on Friday, 11 May, 2018 and will indicate the number of Tier 2 CoS that will be available for the month of June, 2018. can help Tier 2 Visa Sponsorship Licences and Tier 2 Visas

If you need help with a Tier 2 visa, or a Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence, including help with complying with your Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence obligations, can help.

More and more employers are facing sudden unannounced onsite inspections. Contact us for a copy of our free Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence Compliance guide.

For more information and advice on UK immigration law and UK visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or