New UK Certificate of Sponsorship cycles begin April

22nd March 2016, Comments 0 comments

The new changes to the quotas for the UK’s Tier 2 Restricted and Unrestricted Certificates of Sponsorship will commence this coming April. [Contributed by Pro-Link GLOBAL]

Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) are becoming a hot topic of discussion as spring arrives in the United Kingdom (UK). April is the start of the annual, government mandated, cycle of allocations for the certificates. For mobility and recruiters, the focus of this article is the Tier 2 visa option.

Work permit quotas

The UK has been limiting how many CoS are awarded to sponsoring companies for the past several years. Like many countries, the UK wants to ensure their citizens and permanent residents have the opportunity to work in their home country before a sponsoring company hires a foreign national for the role. In many sponsorship instances, jobs must be advertised in specific locations for a certain period of time to ensure citizens are aware of the opportunity and can apply for the positions.

Prevalence of quotas throughout the European Union and Switzerland

The UK is not alone in protecting its local work force. Within the past few months quotas have been amended by various countries within and outside the European Union (EU). The most well-known example of work permit quotas impacting global mobility is Switzerland. Being geographically small and moving to protect its own labor force following a highly publicized referendum, Switzerland enacted a massive reduction in work permit quotas in 2015 for both EU/EFTA nationals (European Free Trade Association) and non-EU/EFTA nationals. Swiss authorities adhered to the same quota for 2016.

Certificates of Sponsorship

What are Certificates of Sponsorship in the UK?

Before a foreign national can apply to work in the UK they must first be assigned a CoS through their employer (sponsor). The CoS is actually a reference number to be included on the visa application. The number can only be used once and is valid for three months from the date it is assigned to an applicant.

Tier 2 Restricted

In April, a specific number of Restricted CoS are available to Tier 2 migrants and their employers on a monthly basis. Restricted CoS are capped at an annual limit (2015’s quota was set at 20,700) and released in 12 increments over a year starting in April. To be clear, the 20,700 was the total number of CoS that were available for the year, for all multinational employers who have a Sponsorship License, per the government. Once these employment positions are filled monthly, there are no more offered until the next month’s cycle starts again.

Tier 2 Unrestricted

Tier 2 Unrestricted CoS, on the other hand, are granted to sponsoring companies on an annual basis, dependent on the number of Tier 2 (and Tier 5) certificates they anticipate needing during the upcoming year. April marks the beginning of the annual cycle for Tier 2 Unrestricted CoS: UK sponsors are granted a new ‘batch’ of Unrestricted CoS and any remaining Unrestricted CoS from the previous year are no longer available for use. Should an employer run out of Tier 2 Unrestricted CoS before the next April allocation, they most often have the opportunity to request more allocations during the year through an ‘in-year’ request.

Most of Pro-link GLOBAL’s clients utilize the Tier 2 Restricted CoS. Knowing the quota is mandated by the government makes it imperative that we all work together in submitting documentation on time and initiating the CoS within three months of its issue date.

What’s changed?

What is the issue for mobility/recruiters?

The government has decided not to increase the 20,700 annual allocation of available Restricted CoS for the year ending April 2016 despite the chaos caused by a shortage at the height of summer in June 2015.

In order to prevent a similar disaster from happening over the coming year, however, the Home Office has revised the monthly quota of Restricted CoS available for allocation in order to better reflect the seasonal demand for places. There will, for example, be a high number of Restricted CoS available to UK sponsors during the busier summer months and a lower quota during the winter months.

How these changes affect you

In the end, no matter what work category a foreign worker falls under, there are a certain number of CoS to be administered throughout a year.

For Restricted CoS: When the allotment has been exhausted each month, nothing can be done, except to wait for the next allocation cycle.

For Unrestricted CoS: Sponsors who choose to request more allocations during the year might have to wait, up to 18 weeks, for an approval or a denial. For those sponsors awaiting their 2016–2017 Unrestricted CoS allocation, thankfully, the wait is over next month!

If you work in corporate HR or global mobility, contact Pro-Link GLOBAL today at to discuss our visa and immigration services.

​Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Knowledge Management team. Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office in South Africa to provide you this update.

Information contained in this Global Brief is prepared using information obtained from various media outlets, government publications and our KGNM network of immigration professionals. Written permission from the copyright owner and any other rights holders must be obtained for any reuse of any content posted or published by Pro-Link GLOBAL that extends beyond fair use or other statutory exemptions. Furthermore, responsibility for the determination of the copyright status and securing permission rests with those persons wishing to reuse the materials. Interested parties are welcome to contact the Knowledge Management Department ( with any additional requests for information or to request reproduction of this material.

Contributed by Pro-Link GLOBAL

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