With the implementation of the permanent immigration cap fast approaching on 6 April 2011, we would advise businesses who are intending to employ out of country candidates on a Tier 2 (General) visa, to issue the CoS (assuming they have any left under their temporary allocation) and ensure that the migrant has submitted their entry clearance (visa) application before this date. This will ensure that they are not caught by the new quota restrictions and the higher level of English language skills required.

Our advice to "strike" early applies equally to businesses who need to extend Tier 2 migrants whose leave is about to expire. With such fundamental changes to the system, we anticipate that extension applications will take longer to process and employees will have to surrender their passports for even longer than at present.

In addition, we would advise businesses to ensure that any assignees coming to the UK on a Tier 2 (ICT) for over 12 months submit their entry clearance application before 6 April 2011 so that they are not captured by the new requirement that long term ICT transferees must be paid a salary of at least £40,000.