The annual immigration cap for sponsoring non-EEA skilled migrants under the Tier 2 (General) subcategory has been reached again for the month of July. This will mean that many companies will be prevented from hiring talented individuals, who would otherwise have helped plug the skills shortage. 

This month 2,040 restricted certificates of sponsorship (CoS) were available, with 394 carried over from last month. As in June, the number of applications submitted by UK sponsors exceeded the amount of CoS available. 1,943 CoS were granted but over 200 requests were rejected. A total of 97 allocations will be carried over to August. 

Only applications scoring at least 45 points were successful in July. Those sponsors who had conducted a resident labour market test and offered salaries of less than £32,000 per annum were refused a CoS allocation. 

Given that there is only a small rollover, there is a real concern that next month's quota of 1,747 will also be exceeded. From the figures of the past two months, it appears that there have been more than 2,000 CoS requests each month since May. If the number of requests in August is similar, then the cap will be reached for a third month in a row. Sponsors will again be left with unsuccessful CoS requests. 

If the cap continues to be reached, the minimum salary bands could rise and we may end up in a situation where the CoS requests which are approved are for jobs on the shortage occupation list or where sponsors are paying at least £75,000 per annum. 

WHAT'S NEXT?

Employers wishing to sponsor migrants under the Tier 2 (General) category in the next few months should plan ahead and consider issues such as timing and the salaries on offer. More importantly when job offers are made, sponsors should be prepared for delays in filling vital job roles. Technology companies and start-ups are among those businesses which are likely to be most affected.