Recommendations to expand the Shortage Occupation List

May 31, 2019

On 14 June 2018 the Government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to undertake a full review of the Shortage Occupation List in the UK and Northern Ireland.

This week MAC have made a number of recommendations to the Home Office including the addition of some new roles to an updated Shortage Occupation List (please see attached report). Assuming it is accepted by the Home Office, the new list would cover 9% of UK jobs compared to 1% now.

What is the Shortage Occupation List?

• The Shortage Occupation List highlights occupations where there is a national shortage of highly skilled workers paving the way for immigration rules to be relaxed
• To be eligible for the Shortage Occupation List, a job role has to fit into the Tier 2 (General) visa route of the Points-Based System, which only applies to non-EEA citizens
• Jobs on the Shortage Occupation List must be skilled to the required standard, currently RQF 6 and above and be paid at a salary level indicated in the Immigration Rules Codes of Practice

Benefits of a role becoming classified as Shortage Occupation?

• No need to pass the Resident Labour Market Test, i.e. to demonstrate that an attempt has been made to recruit domestically through a formal advertising campaign. (saving time and expense in running such a campaign)
• Roles on the Shortage Occupation List are prioritised if the Tier 2 (General) cap or limit on Tier 2 visas of 20,700 is reached (this cap/threshold has been reached on several occasions recently)
• There is no requirement to meet the £35,800 salary threshold required for settlement after five years. This requirement is waived if the job title has been on the Standard Occupation List at any point in those five years
• Applicants (and their families) face lower visa application fees if their occupation is on the Shortage Occupation List

What roles have been recommended by MAC to be added to the Shortage Occupation List?

• Archaeologists
• Architects
• Biochemists
• Occupational Therapists
• Psychologists
• Speech Therapists
• Vets
• Web Designers
• Many other categories of roles have been broadened or redefined (which can have new salary thresholds)

Northern Ireland and Brexit?

The MAC committee also recommended putting in place a separate Shortage Occupation List for Northern Ireland. At clauses 6.2 and 6.3 of the report “a Shortage Occupation List for Northern Ireland could easily be introduced into the current system separate from other proposed changes to the UK immigration system… The MAC recommends a separate list for Northern Ireland”

Perhaps not as positive news is the appropriateness of salary thresholds in Northern Ireland. The MAC deferred making a formal recommendation on this by merely adding “we will consider salary thresholds in Northern Ireland both now and, potentially, in the future”

The MAC did, however, identify that there are shortages within hospitality, agri-food, construction, financial services, advanced manufacturing, digital and creative, health and social care.

This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. Immigration is a complex area of law for both corporates and individuals.  Please contact our Business Immigration / Employment Team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin for further advice or information.

Conor McCrory, Associate, Immigration Law Team, Cleaver Fulton Rankin, Solicitors.