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All non-EU skilled worker visa applications granted in August

All applications made for visas for skilled workers from outside the EU were granted this month, for the first time since November 2017.

A total of 2,256 Tier 2 (General) restricted Certificates of Sponsorship (RCoS) were granted at this month's allocation meeting, according to data published by the Home Office. The figure includes 1,983 certificates set aside for allocation this month plus 243 'reclaimed' certificates that were not used within the previous three months, along with an additional 35 certificates 'borrowed' from next month's allocation.

The Home Office has a set quota of 20,700 skilled worker visas, which is divided into a monthly allocation. When the monthly cap is reached, applications are allocated a number of points based on factors such as shortage occupation, PhD-level position and salary, and prioritised accordingly.

The minimum number of points required by a successful applicant in June 2018 was 60, pointing to a minimum salary requirement of £60,000 or above in most cases. The government changed the immigration rules with effect from 6 July 2018 to remove NHS doctors and nurses from the monthly cap, which it claimed would free up "about 40%" of all Tier 2 places.

Immigration law expert Shuabe Shabudin of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that although the news that all applications for RCoS made in August were successful would be "welcome" to employers, it should still be treated with caution.

"We would caution that this result was only possible due to the clawback of 243 unused certificates from previous months and also the bringing forward of 35 RCoS from the September allocation," he said.

"This was therefore very close, and there is a reasonable chance that the cap may be hit again in the near future. Employers need to be aware that this issue has not necessarily gone away and plan accordingly," he said.

A total of 1,965 RCoS remain available for allocation in September, with the next monthly allocation meeting due to take place on 11 September 2018.

In a report published earlier this month, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) called on the UK government to make significant changes to the immigration system, to allow businesses to access international labour with certainty. It recommended removing the annual skilled worker visa cap, and opening up the Tier 2 regime to non-graduates.

The CBI has also warned against extending the Tier 2 regime to EU citizens after Brexit, saying that this would be "entirely unworkable" for businesses which are already struggling with the complexities of the current system for non-EU workers. The independent Migration Advisory Committee is due to report next month with its recommendations for a post-Brexit migration system.

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