The interim limit of 24,100 applications will be applied from July 19 to April 2011, when a permanent cap is due to come into force. The intention of enforcing the temporary cap is to prevent a rush of applicants before the permanent cap.
The interim limit will be further divided into monthly limits. Once the monthly limit has been reached, no further applications will be considered till the next month. Applications received will be held in a queue in order of the date of application till the following month's limit is opened.
The interim limits will apply to all new applicants under Tier 1 (General), except for extension applications and in-country applications (from applicants already in Britain switching from another immigration category to Tier 1 General).
The applications for Tier 2 (General) will be limited to the number of certificates of sponsorship that an employer can issue. Once an individual is issued with a certificate of sponsorship, they are deemed to be within the limits for the relevant period and their application under Tier 2 should be considered as normal.
The limit will not apply to extension applications under Tier 2 although it will apply to applicants switching from another immigration category into Tier 2 (General).
Tiers 1 and 2 of the system offers potential routes to settlement in Britain and may lead to the opportunity to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), often known as permanent residency.
In tiers 2-5, applicants will need to obtain a certificate of sponsorship from the relevant sponsoring body. For tier 2 visas this would be a sponsoring British company, for tier 3 visas the operator of a specific worker scheme, for tier 4 visas the educational institution and for tier 5 visas the home government of the candidate.
The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has launched a consultation with a view to deciding the level of the permanent cap due to be applied from April 2011. The Migration Advisory Committee is also undertaking consultations to assist the government in finalising the format of the permanent cap.
The home affairs select committee of the British Parliament is separately launching its own consultation on the issue from Tuesday.