Despite the caps on immigration under Tier 2 (General) which have seen many registered employers' Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) allocations slashed to zero, the Kingsley Napley immigration team would urge registered sponsors to apply for a new CoS allocation as soon as possible.

We have received confirmation from the UKBA recently that registered Tier 2 sponsors must still apply to renew their annual allocation of CoSs, even if it has been zeroed under the new cap system. This is necessary to maintain their Tier 2 registration as active, even though no CoSs will be approved under the allocation system. Once they have applied for another year's allocation, sponsors need to complete an additional application form requesting any CoSs they need on an exceptional basis.

Our experience is that requests for annual CoS allocations are taking several months to be processed so employers should submit requests now before they are faced with an urgent recruitment need.

This situation has arisen as a result of the coalition government's temporary cap on immigration under Tiers 1 and 2 of the immigration points-based system that was brought in on 19 July 2010 to reduce the number of non-EU workers coming to the UK. Following that date, employers registered under Tier 2 (General) saw their annual CoS allocation severely reduced. Once their reduced allocation has been used, if they need to issue a CoS to employ someone from outside the EU, they must first apply to a new panel for a CoS. The panel meets monthly to decide all CoS requests. Once a CoS request is approved, the sponsor must still meet the Tier 2 points requirements before they can issue a CoS and the sponsored employee still needs to apply for permission to stay or enter the UK based on their CoS.