The Migration Advisory Committee (‘MAC’) has recommended that a significant number of jobs should be added to the Tier 2 shortage occupation list.
The jobs that are on the shortage occupation list can be found in Appendix K of the Immigration Rules.
The Government generally accepts the MAC’s recommendations. If it accepts its latest ones, we may see the expanded shortage occupation list incorporated into the Immigration Rules in the next few months. Only around 1% of all UK jobs are currently on the list. If accepted, the proposals would expand this to around 9% and would mean that the benefits of being on the list would apply to millions of jobs.
A number of the rules that must otherwise be followed in relation to sponsorship under Tier 2 of the Points Based System do not apply if a job is on the shortage occupation list.
- the skill level of roles on the shortage occupation list does not need to be at RQF level 6;
- the Resident Labour Market Test (‘RLMT’) does not apply (unless the role is in occupation code ‘2231 Nurses’);
- if the monthly allocation of Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship is met (based on the annual limit of 20,700), roles on the shortage occupation list are prioritised;
- the minimum salary requirement for an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain (‘ILR’) for a Tier 2 worker does not apply if the role was on the shortage occupation list in the preceding six years;
- applicants (and their families) face lower visa application fees if their occupation is on the shortage occupation list.
The future immigration system for workers
In December 2018, the Government published plans for the UK’s new immigration system, due to come into force in early 2021.
The new immigration system for workers, which we covered here, is likely to be far less restrictive than the current system generally and a number of the benefits outlined above are set to be incorporated into it. In particular, the RLMT and annual limit on work visas is to be scrapped and the skill level is to be set at RQF level 3.
The only remaining benefits for shortage occupation list roles would be lower visas fees and exemption from the minimum salary requirement for ILR applicants. We may therefore see either a scrapping of the shortage occupation list or the introduction of other benefits once more details of the new system are published.