NHS exemption from Tier 2 visa cap should ease pressure on restricted CoS applications

21 Jun 2018

In what is very good news for all licensed sponsors of Tier 2 (General) migrants, the government have confirmed changes to the Immigration Rules which will exempt doctors and nurses from the annual limit on visas for skilled non-EEA workers.

Migration of non-EEA workers to the UK via the Tier 2 (General) route is subject to a cap of 20,700 visas per year. This allocation is broken down into a monthly allowance of restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (rCoS),  which varies each month to reflect anticipated seasonal variations. Sponsors apply for an rCoS which the intended migrant must use to submit their visa application.

Since November 2017 demand for rCoS have outstripped supply. In such circumstances, a points-scoring assessment is undertaken to identify which sponsors should receive their requested allocation. Many sponsors have been unable to proceed with the intended employment of non-EEA nationals, usually because the proposed salary didn’t score them enough points to give them priority.

These changes are primarily intended to ease the number of vacancies in the NHS. The BBC reported yesterday that the NHS has 35,000 nurse vacancies and nearly 10,000 doctors positions unfilled at present.

However the NHS has been cited as historically accounting for around 40% of the allocated rCoS and the Home Office has commented that removing NHS applications from the cap will have the knock-on effect of freeing up places for other skilled non-EEA workers. It is of course difficult to predict whether the change will lead to an immediate return to the old norm of supply outstripping demand.

The exemption takes effect on 6 July. The changes will be kept under review and may not be permanent, but the expectation, at least in the short term, must be that applications for rCoS will stand a much better prospect of success than we have seen for over the last six months.

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