UNITED KINGDOM: Non-EU Doctors and Nurses to be Excluded from Tier 2 Cap

June 15, 2018

On 15th June 2018, the Home Office announced that it will exclude doctors and nurses from the annual cap on non-EU skilled workers, in response to the particular shortages and pressures currently facing the NHS.  This could make available thousands of extra visas for IT specialists, engineers and other professionals.

The change, set out in a statement of changes to the immigration rules, will take effect from 6th July 2018 and will apply to all decisions made on or after that date.

Note that all applications for nurses, and all applications for doctors not currently recognised on the Shortage Occupation List, will continue to be required to demonstrate that they have met the requirements of the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). Doctors currently recognised on the Shortage Occupation List will continue to be exempt from the RLMT.


The annual limit on non-EU workers in the Tier 2 (General) visa category was introduced in 2011 and is currently set at 20,700, divided into monthly allocations.

Each application is scored, and roles which are on the shortage occupation list, pay large salaries or require a higher skill level score more points and are prioritised. When the limit is exceeded, lower-scoring applications are rejected. Rejected applications can be resubmitted the following month, further increasing the pressure on the cap.

The number of applications in December 2017 was nearly double that in November, and the monthly limit has been oversubscribed every month since then.

Between December 2017 and March 2018, over 6000 applications were rejected, including over 1500 applications for doctors with job offers in the UK and over 1600 for IT workers and engineers.

NHS leaders and representatives from other industries have complained about the difficulty of recruiting enough skilled staff due to the cap.

Our advice

UK employers who are affected by the oversubscribed Tier 2 (General) limit are encouraged to contact their Newland Chase immigration specialist for case-specific advice.

For general advice and information on immigration and business travel to the UK, please contact us.