Employers must apply for their allocation of Unrestricted Tier 2 Certificates of Sponsorship for the upcoming year by 5pm GMT on Friday, March 11, 2011, or they may find themselves unable to issue Certificates for several weeks. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has recently been contacting Tier 2 Sponsors by email to notify them of the deadline and to provide them with the application form.
Once the UK’s upcoming permanent cap system takes effect on April 6, 2011, the annual Certificate of Sponsorship allocation period will run from April 6, 2011 to April 5, 2012. If a Tier 2 Sponsor fails to apply by March 11, its allocation for the coming cap year will be reset to zero on April 6, and it will not be able to sponsor foreign workers under Tier 2. Tier 2 Sponsors will still be able to apply for allocations after April 6 through the standard (SMS) process, but if they wait until after April 6 to apply through the SMS, they will not be able to issue Certificates to foreign workers until the new allocation is approved.
Though Tier 2 Sponsors must apply for their allocation of Unrestricted Certificates by March 11, 2011, they will not be able to view these Certificates or issue them to foreign national workers until after April 6, 2011. Therefore, Tier 2 Sponsors seeking to bring in workers before April 6 should assign their existing Certificates without delay. In addition, Tier 2 Sponsors should not use the standard Sponsor Management System (SMS) process before April 6 to apply for Certificates for foreign national workers who will enter the UK after April 6.
As previously reported, under the permanent cap system there will be two types of Tier 2 Certificates of Sponsorship: (1) Unrestricted Certificates, which can be used to sponsor foreign workers in a category that is exempt from the annual cap; and (2) Restricted Certificates, which can be used to sponsor foreign workers in categories subject to the cap. The following categories of foreign workers are exempt from the annual cap and eligible for Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship:
- Tier 2 (Intracompany Transfers);
- Foreign nationals already working in the UK under Tier 2 and are extending their stay with a current or new employer;
- Foreign nationals submitting Tier 2 (General) applications from inside the UK for extensions, changes of status, or changes of employment;
- Foreign nationals applying under transitional arrangements as a Tier 2 migrant or work permit holder;
- Applicants seeking to fill a vacancy with a salary of £150,000 or more; and
- Tier 2 Sportsperson or Minister of Religion applicants.
This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to