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CaSE responds to expected announcement to end Tier 2 cap crisis

14 Jun 2018

CaSE responds to expected announcement of changes to the Tier 2 cap.

In response to the announcement expected by the Home Secretary tomorrow to exempt doctors and nurses from the Tier 2 visa cap, Executive Director Dr Sarah Main said:

“This is a major step forward. I am delighted that the Government ​is taking a positive and pragmatic approach to this issue, as CaSE has been calling for for three years. It will relieve the immediate crisis that has caused thousands of engineers,​ tech and IT specialists, as well as doctors, to be turned away from the UK in recent months.”

“Government must learn the lessons of the last few months and ensure that a post-Brexit migration system for a Global Britain supports research and innovation and does not feature a cap on the international specialists we want to attract. For the UK to be a research and innovation leader, as the Prime Minister wants, we need a streamlined, proportionate migration system along with a global charm offensive to attract the most talented people to the UK. ” 

In response to the expected announcement of a review of the Shortage Occupation List, Executive Director Dr Sarah Main said:

“Reviewing the list is welcome to ensure it better captures occupations in long term shortage. But a static list can never capture emerging and flexible needs of our economy, particularly in fast moving science and innovation sectors. We must look to develop home-grown skills where there are gaps, but we must also welcome great people from around the world where they are needed and want to contribute to the UK. It doesn’t have to be an ‘either, or’. A creative, innovative, thriving Britain needs both.”

In response to repeated refusals by Government to release migration data to Parliament when asked, Executive Director Dr Sarah Main said:

“It is worrying that the Government did not release important migration data in response to Parliamentary Questions, prompting ​CaSE to resort to Freedom of Information requests. Transparency with the public and with Parliament is critical to inform a healthy debate on migration and I hope the Home Office will change tack and take a lead on transparent use of evidence in migration policy-making in future.” 



1.CaSE is the leading independent advocate for science and engineering. Find out more at 

2.View Tier 2 cap background, comments, data, analysis on CaSE’s tier 2 campaignpage

3.CaSE published the original FOI request response from the Home Office on 16th May 2018.

4.CaSE also published further breakdown and analysis of the FOI refusal numbers.

5.You can view the full set of data CaSE received in response to the FOI detailing refusals by SOC code by month Dec-Mar (also below).

General Notes on the Tier 2 Visa cap:

  • The Government policy of an annual cap on Tier 2 (General) visas was introduced in 2011. Before December 2017 the cap had only been breached once, June 2015, when 66 engineering roles were refused.
  • The Government holds a Shortage Occupation List. Three quarters of these are in science, technology, engineering or medicine.  
  • CaSE’s recent immigration report, called on the government to rebuild confidence in the short term (amending visa rules – including the cap, improving immigration messaging and providing confidence during the Brexit transition), and create a streamlined system in the long term that supports research and innovation. 
  • In March, CaSE published a letter to the Prime Minister, calling on the government to take urgent action in revising current immigration policy to better attract international research and innovation talent. The letter was supported by over 40 organisations from across business, universities, ​professional institutes, and research charities.

CaSE FOI response details (originally published on 16th May 2018):

  • Between December 2017 and March 2018, 6080 Tier 2 (General) Certificates of Sponsorship (CoS) were refused due the number of applications exceeding the cap imposed by the Government (the annual cap is 20,700 with a specific allocation set for each month).
  • Of all eligible applications for a Tier 2 (General) CoS: in December 36% were refused; in January 47% were refused; in February 48% were refused; in March 59% were refused.
  • Within the 6080 eligible applications refused a CoS due to the annual cap, were:
    • 412 Engineering roles 
    • 1226 IT & Technology roles 
    • 197 Teacher roles (9 STEM teachers)
    • 1518 Doctor roles
    • 362 Other healthcare professional roles 
    • 1815 Professional services
    • 550 All other professions 

This figure of 6080 is the number of applications that were refused, not the number of individuals affected as an employer could reapply the following month for a CoS for the same role.