What is the change? The allocated quota for Tier 2 Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS) has been exhausted for the month of March, the fourth consecutive month the quotas have been exhausted.

What does the change mean? Employers should anticipate that requests for Tier 2 (General) Certificates of Sponsorship with points below the minimum 50 and a salary of less than £55,000 per year have been refused and will need to be resubmitted in April.

  • Implementation time frame: Ongoing.
  • Visas/permits affected: Tier 2 (General).
  • Who is affected: Companies applying for RCoS for non-EEA skilled migrants under the Tier 2 (General) regime.
  • Impact on processing times: Requests will need to be resubmitted in April to be reassessed, assuming the resident market test remains valid.
  • Business impact: Companies sponsoring lower-paid Tier 2 workers may need to delay work start dates and should anticipate that quotas may also be exhausted through May or June. Re-advertising may be necessary as a result.
  • Next steps: Employers should plan for potential delays to business schedules in coming months. Although a higher monthly quota will be available in April (the beginning of a new fiscal year), the carryover of rejected applications that will be resubmitted in subsequent months means that the monthly quotas are likely to be exhausted for a few more months. Meanwhile, employers should work with BAL to explore other immigration options, such as alternative visa routes. They should also consider increasing salaries for the role to improve their chances of obtaining an RCoS in the current environment, bearing in mind that additional advertising may be required.

Background: The annual quota for Tier 2 (General) visas is 20,700, allocated into monthly quotas. In 2016, the monthly distribution was changed to provide higher quotas during the high-demand months of April through September and lower quotas in other months, thereby shifting pressure on months at the end of the fiscal year (December through March). When the monthly quota is reached, applications are ranked by points obtained, with more points earned for shortage occupations, higher salaries, and certain Ph.D.-level roles.

BAL Analysis: BAL anticipates pressure on quotas through May or June and recommends that employers plan accordingly. While the government considers whether to make changes to its shortage occupation list to alleviate pressure on the quotas, employers should consider salary as the deciding factor in the approval of an RCoS request. Companies that recruit higher earners will continue to be more likely to have their applications approved.

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

Copyright © 2018 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