Jul 02 2018

Tier 2 General Cap Reached for the Seventh Time but Change is on the Horizon

United Kingdom

At a Glance

As anticipated, the monthly quota for non-European Economic Area nationals sponsored under the Tier 2 (General) Visa category has been exceeded again. Only prioritised applications for this category have been granted.

The situation

As predicted, the monthly quota for non-European Economic Area nationals sponsored under the Tier 2 (General) Visa category has been exceeded again.

A closer look

Applications submitted by June 5, 2018 for Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCOS) where applicants were to be paid under GBP 60,000 have been refused unless they are PhD-level jobs, a role listed on the recognised Shortage Occupation List, or were prioritised for other reasons. This is consistent with the outcome each month since December 2017.  

Applicants whose RCOS applications are refused, will be able to reapply for a RCOS next month provided the advertising undertaken by their prospective employer is still valid. There is no right of appeal following refusal.


Fragomen will notify employers of rejected applications and will discuss strategic options such as whether the application can or should be re-filed next month or whether other options exist.


There is an annual quota of 20,700 RCOS and a fixed number of spaces are available each month.

The Tier 2 (General) Visa quota affects foreign nationals applying for a visa from outside the United Kingdom who will earn less than a guaranteed amount of GBP 159,600 per year or those who apply from within the United Kingdom and are switching from the Tier 4 Partner category.

Tier 2 (General) Visa applications are processed in a priority order based on a points system: shortage occupations are awarded the most points, followed by PhD-level jobs and lastly points are awarded based on salary. Applications can also be prioritised for other reasons, such as UK graduates being recruited through a milkround, amongst others.

Looking ahead

The UK government has now formally announced that non-EU doctors and nurses will be exempt from the RCOS allocation. These changes should free up RCOS requests for other highly-skilled occupations and subsequently, this should reduce the minimum salary for RCOS approvals if the quota continues to be reached in the future.

The government also announced that Croatian nationals will be exempt from the RCOS allocation as it is five years on from Croatia's accession to the EU.

These changes to the monthly quota are not retrospective and they will come into effect on July 6, 2018.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].