Visa Cap for skilled non- EU workers hit for third month running
UK businesses seeking to hire skilled non - EU workers are losing out as it emerges that the monthly quota has been hit for the third month in a row. The Home Office sent out emails to businesses that were awaiting the outcome of the February restricted certificate of sponsorship round. A restricted certificate of sponsorship is needed to support a highly skilled non – EU worker coming to the UK to work.
This is only the fourth time since the quota was introduced in April 2011 that the cap has been hit. This means that many highly skilled workers are unable to take up their post until the number of applications lodged start to fall.
Restricted certificates of sponsorship are certificates the employer cannot directly issue to their worker unlike an unrestricted certificate of sponsorship.
A restricted certificate must be issued to anyone who is unable to make an immigration application under Tier 2 from inside the UK, unless they will be paid at least the higher rate of salary, which is currently £159,600. Dependents of Tier 4 students must also have a restricted certificate.
The employer would need to apply for a restricted certificate from the Home Office and the Home Office must approve the application. Each month a session is held to determine where the threshold for points will be set based on the number of applications received. It is unclear what the threshold will be until a few days before the session.
The Home Office criteria for scoring and prioritizing applications is contained in the sponsor guidance but jobs on the shortage occupation list receive most points following by PhD level roles and graduate roles recruited through the
milk round. Then it is a case of how much money the businesses are willing to pay employees. Companies that pay the highest salaries are rewarded with a certificate and those that pay lower wages will need some luck.
It appears for March’s round that the salary threshold for rejection could be around £50,000. Initially it was felt that the maximum quota being reached was a blip but now appears the government will have to step in as it seems this will be a long term issue. There are calls for a change in the points, the criteria or to create exemptions. There are already calls to exempt NHS workers.
The sponsor guidance is clear that restricted certificates are for very talented non – EU migrants who will undertake a highly skilled job that “suitable” resident workers have not applied for, for a higher salary. The minimum that can be paid at present is £30,000.
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