The Tier 2 (General) annual limit

There is an annual limit of 20,700 certificates of sponsorship (CoS) available to sponsors under Tier 2 (General). The limit runs from 6 April each year to 5 April the following year.

The limit applies to:

  • CoS for new hires earning under £159,600 per year coming work in the UK from overseas – we call these ‘restricted’ jobs, for which a ‘restricted’ CoS is needed
  •  CoS for the dependant of a migrant who was last granted leave under Tier 4, where that dependant is already in the UK and wishes to change (‘switch’) into Tier 2 (General) and will be paid less than £159,600
  •  CoS for Croatian nationals

The following are exempt from the limit and we call these ‘unrestricted’ jobs, for which an ‘unrestricted’ CoS is needed:

  •  high value inward investment posts – where the job offer is for the migrant to work in support of a posting from an overseas firm to you in connection with the relocation of a high value business to the UK or a significant new inward investment project, where:
    • you were registered in the UK with Companies House no earlier than 3 years before the date the CoS was assigned
    •  you are the registered branch or wholly owned subsidiary of a business which has its headquarters and principal place of business outside the UK
    •  the relocation or inward investment involves new capital expenditure of £27 million or the creation of at least 21 new UK jobs

and you are able to provide evidence of this if required. You, or the overseas business of which you are the branch or subsidiary, must be the entity directly making the investment – for this purpose, working in support of an inward investment project does not include the supply of services to a third party client who is making an investment. The capital expenditure or job creation does not need to have taken place before you assign the CoS, but you must be able to provide evidence that this will take place as part of the existing project.

  • new hires: high earners – where the annual salary for the job is £159,600 or more
  • all applications by migrants who are applying from within the UK, including those extending their stay in Tier 2, changing employer, or switching immigration category -the only exception to this is where the migrant switching into Tier 2 (General) is in the UK as a dependant of another migrant who was last granted leave under Tier 4 and will be paid less than £159,600

Note: these dependants do count towards the limit and you must apply for a restricted CoS for them.

  • Although a CoS assigned to a Croatian national counts towards the limit, you do not need to apply for a restricted CoS for them and should assign an unrestricted CoS instead.