What is the change? For the sixth consecutive month, the allocated quota for Tier 2 Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS) has been exhausted for May.

What does the change mean? Requests for Tier 2 (General) Certificates of Sponsorship with points below the minimum 51 and a salary of less than £55,000 per year are being rejected for the month of May, and employers will need to resubmit them in June.

  • 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) category.
  • Impact on processing times: Rejected applications will need to be resubmitted in June, assuming that the resident market test remains valid.
  • Business impact: Companies sponsoring Tier 2 workers on the lower end of the pay scale may need to delay work start dates and plan for the likelihood that June quotas will also be exhausted. As a result, employers may need to readvertise the positions.
  • Next steps: Employers should plan for potential delays to business schedules for several more months and, in the meantime, should work with their BAL professional to explore other immigration options, such as alternative visa routes. They should also consider increasing salaries for the Tier 2 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). The exhaustion of quotas at the end of the fiscal year, however, has carried over into the new fiscal year. 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: As expected, the pressure on Tier 2 quotas continues and appears to be a long-term trend. The quotas have been exceeded every month since December 2017, and with the excess applications being rolled over to the next month, the pressure is unlikely to be eased anytime soon. BAL anticipates that quotas will be filled every month going forward, and certainly until September given the annual peak during the summer period. Companies that recruit higher earners will continue to be more likely to have their applications approved. Employers should consider salary as the deciding factor in the approval of an RCoS request and anticipate that all applicants on lower salaries will be delayed and potentially disqualified.  While applications do roll over each month, this is only automatic while the advertising remains valid (typically six months).  A more detailed risk assessment should be made for all roles prior to advertising.

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

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