The Government's annual immigration cap for sponsoring non-EEA skilled workers under the Tier 2 (General) category has this month been reached. 

This will mean that many companies will be prevented from hiring talented individuals, who would otherwise have helped plug the skills shortage. 

The annual cap was first introduced on 6 April 2011 and has been limited to 20,700 allocations per year running from April to April. It applies to restricted certificates of sponsorship (CoS), ie to those who are applying from overseas with an annual salary of less than £155,300 per annum or PBS dependants under the Tier 4 category switching their stay in the UK. 

Until this month, restricted CoS allocations had not been oversubscribed. 

This month 1,658 restricted CoS were available to Tier 2 sponsors (8 allocations were carried over from last month) but the number of applications submitted by UK sponsors exceeded that amount. As a consequence, many applications were rejected by UKVI, leaving sponsors, who had issued job offers to foreign workers, with unfilled job vacancies. 

In a further setback, those who wish to re-apply for an allocation in July will face competition in next month’s quota. Some sponsors may need to raise salary levels and re-issue job offers in order to secure CoS allocations. This may in turn require roles to be re-advertised, causing further delays in filling vacancies. 

Many companies will find this a challenge. Smaller sponsors and start-ups in particular may not be in a position to raise salary levels and delays could put some start-ups, which have just obtained sponsor licences, out of business.