There has been a flurry of activity over the last few days in preparation for the roll-out of the new permanent quota on 6 April 2011.

Recent announcements include:

Unrestricted CoS – requesting the annual allocation

The UKBA has now contacted Sponsors to ask them to submit their estimates of the number of unrestricted CoS they will need for the year 6 April 2011 to 5 April 2012. Please see the text of the attached letter.

Key Points

  • The request must be filed by 11 March 2011 to guarantee that the allocation is available for use on or after 6 April 2011 when the quota comes into force;
  • If the request is not received by 11 March, the Sponsor’s annual allocation will automatically be reset to zero;
  • Requests will be accepted after 11 March but there is no guarantee that the allocation will be available for 6 April rollout. Requests filed after 6 April 2011 must be made via the Sponsor Management System. There may be a delay before the CoS are available on line to issue;
  • Going forward, the annual allocation will run from April to April.

Actions for Sponsors

Every Sponsor must now assess how many Tier 2 (General) and Tier 2 (ICT) CoS it will need.

Unrestricted Tier 2 (General) CoS

This estimate will cover:

  • All new hires where the salary will be over £150,000 per annum;
  • All new hires where the candidate is already in the UK as a Tier 2 (General) or work permit holder which was issued on or before 5 April 2011;
  • Any Tier 2 (General) new hire who is already in the UK in another immigration category where in country switching is permitted e.g. Tier 1 (Post Study Worker), Tier 1 (General);
  • Extensions for the same role for the same employer where the migrant entered as a Tier 2 (General).

 Tier 2 (ICT) Unrestricted CoS:

This estimate will cover:

  • extensions for migrants as Tier 2 (ICTs) for the same role for the same employer
  • Established Staff
  • Graduate Trainees
  • Skills Transfers

 It is obviously a difficult exercise to project forward recruitment/staffing needs for the next 12 months. Our advice is that Sponsors should apply on the basis of the information currently available on likely recruitment. This estimate may still be closely aligned with the figures provided for the last annual allocation applied for under the temporary quota in June or as part of the annual renewal tied to the Sponsor Licence. We understand that requests for further unrestricted CoS will be accepted by the UKBA once an allocation has been used.

New Fees (28 February)

These fees will apply to all applications made on or after 6 April 2011 and can be found here. These new figures should be factored into budgets.

New Codes of Practice (3 March 2011)

The Migration Advisory Committee (“MAC”) has recommended that 8 job titles be removed from the shortage occupation list. Shortage occupations are roles which are recognised as being in acute shortage which do not have to be advertised.

The roles to be removed as they will not meet the minimum skills threshold are:

  • High integrity pipe welder
  • Air frame fitters
  • Site supervisor within the electricity transmission and distribution agency
  • Skilled boner and skilled meat trimmer
  • Skilled senior careworker. This will not affect care home managers and nurses working in care homes as these are assessed as graduate level at NQF4
  • Skilled sheep shearer.

 The MAC has also recommended that chef roles on the shortage occupation list are to be restricted to chef roles requiring a minimum of:

  • 5 years’ experience; and
  • minimum salary of at least £28,260.

The Government will respond before 6 April. The current shortage occupation list which will remain in force until 5 April can be found here.

Salary levels

We understand that new minimum pay levels may be specified in the Codes of Practice with effect from 6 April with some significant increases to the minimum pay levels. We will advise as soon as anything further is published.

In the interim, our advice remains that Sponsors must ensure that all CoS are issued and applications for entry clearance/grant of leave are made before 6 April to guarantee not being affected by the new rules.