07 February 2018
In the United Kingdom, two recent developments have the potential to negatively impact companies employing foreign nationals.
First, the UK government has announced that sometime this year the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) will increase from £200 to £400 per year. Similarly, the discounted IHS for Tier 4 students and those on the Youth Mobility Scheme (Tier 5) will also rise from £150 to £300 per year. Introduced in 2015, the IHS is levied on those foreign nationals from outside the European Economic Area coming to the UK to work, study, or re-join family for six months or longer.
Second, the supply of Tier 2 (General) Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS) available for January 2018 was exceeded by demand for a second consecutive month. The total number of RCoS available to employers in January 2018 stood at 1651 after 91 RCoS were borrowed by the December 2017 allocation, which was also exceeded. RCoS applications submitted in January were rejected where the applicant’s salary was less than £50,000, other than those employed in PhD-level or shortage occupations or those recruited via the milkround exercise for recent graduates. RCoS applications that were rejected in January may be resubmitted in February, provided that the advertising carried out by their prospective employer remains valid.
Under the Tier 2 scheme, there is an annual allocation of 20,700 RCoS, which divided into monthly allocations. The monthly allocations are set higher earlier in the year (starting in April) to ensure that there are enough RCoS available during the peak demand in the summer. If allocations are under-subscribed in any month, the surplus is carried over to the next month. However, if demand outstrips supply, a points threshold is triggered, and applications are evaluated on points based on salary and occupation. Jobs at the PhD level and those listed as shortage occupations are awarded higher scores.
The deadline for the present monthly allocation was February 5. As it is likely that many of the unsuccessful RCoS applications from January are likely to be resubmitted for February, employers may find that February’s RCoS quota will once again be oversubscribed. Employers using the Tier 2 General scheme in the UK should be prepared for the possibility of a qualifying application for a RCoS not being granted on first request and are encouraged to consult their Immigration Specialists for guidance.