Nurses added to shortage occupation list, putting pressure on Tier 2 quotas

15 Oct 15



What is the change? Addressing criticism of nurse shortages endangering patient safety, the government has temporarily added nurses to its shortage occupation list, allowing non-EEA nurses to apply and be given priority access to the quota each month.

What does the change mean? Given the backlog of nurses who have been rejected for visas in recent months, the measure will lead to an influx of Tier 2 applications for nurses who will be given quota places before other occupations. This is likely to put pressure on Tier 2 quotas the next few months, meaning that only higher salary positions are likely to be approved for Tier 2 restricted certificates of sponsorship.

  • Implementation time frame: Immediate.
  • Visas/permits affected: Tier 2 Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS).
  • Who is affected: Employers applying for Tier 2 RCoS’s, i.e. new non-EEA employees earning salaries of less than £155,300.
  • Impact on processing times: While this will not directly affect processing times, if quotas are exhausted employers whose applications are rejected will have to wait until the following month to reapply.
  • Business impact: Pressure on Tier 2 quotas impacts business schedules and budgetsEmployers may have to delay work start dates for rejected RCoS’s or consider higher salary offers to make their applications more competitive within the quota.
  • Next steps: Companies should work with their BAL team to weigh the best options in individual cases.

Background: The oversubscription of quotas in the past four months has disproportionately affected nurses with entry level salaries, with hundreds rejected in June alone.

The addition of nurses to the shortage occupation list is a temporary measure that will be reviewed by the Migration Advisory Committee, which is currently working on recommendations to the government on Tier 2 reforms.

BAL Analysis: Tier 2 RCoS quotas continue to be vulnerable to oversubscription. The new measure is positive news for nurses, but is likely to have an adverse effect on other applicants applying for quota spots in coming months.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group in the United Kingdom. For additional information, please contact

Copyright © 2016 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact