UK Tier 2 Visa scheme could become a lot more difficult

By Sanwar Ali, Editor

As we reported recently if you are an employer with a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and wish to apply to employ Tier 2 visa migrants based outside the UK you should consider applying soon.  It is possible that it could become more difficult in future. 

Sajid Javid the Home Secretary previously said in June in a letter to MAC the Migration Advisory Committee that the decision to remove doctors and nurses from the restricted Certificate of Sponsorship cap was “temporary” and that it would “keep this change under review”.  The Home Office only provided details of this letter on Thursday.

On Friday Sajid Javid said something different and tweeted:

“In June I took action to exempt doctors and nurses from annual cap on skilled visas. Let me be clear: whilst all immigration rules kept under review, I have no plans to remove the exemption.”

Unfortunately alternatives to the Tier 2 visa scheme such as the Tier 1 Entrepreneur visa scheme and Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa scheme are not easy to come under.  Perhaps in some circumstances it might be worth considering a Tier 5 intern visa scheme.

Tier 2 Visas have been much easier to obtain since August 2018

While taking doctors and nurses out of the Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship cap has not affected applicants applying to switch from within the UK, it has made an enormous difference to UK employers wishing to employ Tier 2 visa migrants based outside the UK.   

The following are the recent points requirements to obtain a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship:

  • June 2018 – 60 points
  • July 2018 – 41 points
  • August 2018 – 21 points
  • September 2018 – 21 points

In many cases to gain enough points the salary in June had to be about £60,000 a year or higher.  Since August the points requirement meant that most employers wishing to employ someone as an experienced worker earning at least £30,000 a year or a new entrant at a lower salary gained enough points.

From December 2017 to July 2018 the number of applications under the Restricted CoS cap exceeded the number of CoSs available.  During this time many thousands of people were unable to obtain Tier 2 visas. Many employers repeatedly made applications for many months to try and obtain restricted CoSs. There are £20,700 available per year with about 2,000 available each month.

Employers wishing to employ people in a wide range of occupations such as IT professionals, Managers, Marketing Experts, Accountants, etc have found it much easier to bring in more people since August 2018.  Taking doctors and nurses out of the Cap has resulted in a significant increase in the number of Tier 2 visas that are available to employers.

NHS organisations and Medical Groups had lobbied for changes

There had been intense lobbying due to serious shortages of doctors and nurses.  Eventually in July 2018 the situation changed. 

Dr Nick Scriven, the president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said the following:

“This is alarming and appears to backtrack on the recent change that was widely welcomed by the medical profession. With the ongoing uncertainty of Brexit and its effect on recruitment, this appears ill judged. We should be doing everything in our power to recruit and retain the people we need to look after our patients.”

Tier 2 Visa Sajid Javid letter written in June released recently

The letter from Sajid Javid was only released by the Home Office on Thursday.  In the letter MAC was also asked to review the shortage occupation list (SOL) for the first time since 2013.  Fortunately, according to the Tweet on Friday there are apparently no plans to remove the exemption for doctors and nurses.

 “As the committee will be aware, the tier 2 (general) cap has recently been hit and has continued to be under pressure in every month since December 2017, resulting in a number of occupations being refused places.

“This has also impacted on doctors working in critical roles in the NHS – and other highly skilled professionals across other parts of the economy…

 “In view of the risks associated with doctors not being able to fill necessary posts within the NHS and in view of the current pressures, I have exceptionally agreed – on a temporary basis – to exempt all doctors and all nurses from the tier 2 cap, but a review of the full SOL will enable the committee to assess which occupations should be given priority within the cap. I intend to keep this change under review.”

NHS disaster if doctors and nurses are again part of the Tier 2 Visa Cap

The NHS in England has about 10,000 vacancies for doctors the greatest number of vacancies ever.  If doctors and nurses will again become subject to the Cap, will there be an increase in deaths in the UK because of the shortage of doctors and nurses we wonder?  In addition, other sectors in the economy will suffer due to skills shortages.   Fortunately, according to the latest Sajid Javid Tweet this should not be happening any time soon. can help with Tier 2 visas and Sponsorship Licences

If you need help with a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence or would like help with complying with your Tier 2 Sponsorship Licence obligations can help. Call 0344 991 9222 for further details. has been in the visa business for thirty years, and has helped thousands of people to study, work, invest and live in the UK. We represent clients under Section 84 of the 1999 Immigration Act, and we can advise and assist with your UK visa application.