Stemming from the Government’s aim to reduce migration from outside the EEA to the UK to the tens of thousands, new rules will be in place from 6 April 2011.

The current position is that an organisation which wants to employ a migrant from outside the EEA will need to hold a licence under either Tier 2 or Tier 5. The organisation needs to have an allocation of Certificates of Sponsorship ( CoS ) so it can assign a CoS to a migrant as the migrant will need this before he/she can apply for entry clearance to the UK.

The rule changes mean that UKBA shall allocate Certificates of Sponsorship to organisations yearly and UKBA are introducing the ‘Certificate of Sponsorship year’ which will run from 6 April to 5 April each year. Each year organisations will have to apply for a new allocation as needed.

From 6 April 2011 UKBA shall class Certificates of Sponsorship as either Restricted or Unrestricted.

Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship are those issued for out of country applications under Tier 2 (General).

Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship are those issued under Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer); Tier 2 (Sports People); Tier 2 (Minister of Religion); Tier 2 (General) where the salary is over £150,000; and Tier 2 (General) in-country applications.

Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship shall be subject to an annual limit of the number that UKBA can allocate to all organisations. From 6 April 2011 this limit shall be 20,700. In the first month UKBA may allocate up to 4,200 CoS . In months two to twelve UKBA may allocate up to 1,500 each month. If the numbers of CoS applied for in any month exceed the number that UKBA can allocate, UKBA shall score all applications received for that month according to a points table. UKBA will give priority to those migrants fulfilling a role where there is a scarcity of skills in the UK and those with the highest salaries.

Employers wanting an allocation of unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship for the year starting 6 April 2011 should have already applied to UKBA . If an employer did not do this the allocation shall be set at zero. An employer can apply for an allocation via the SMS (Sponsorship Management System) after 6 April 2011.

Employers wanting an allocation of restricted Certificates of Sponsorship can complete an on-line application. UKBA will consider all applications received by 6 April 2011 on 11 April 2011.

These changes are only part of further changes. UKBA are making changes to the list of shortage occupations; minimum English language requirements; the academic level of jobs; and how long Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) migrants can stay depending on their salary.