Migration Advisory Committee recommends the expansion of the Shortage occupation list

 
 
It is headline news in some newspapers that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has recommended that migration rules, and in particular the Shortage Occupation List should be extended. If the government accepts the committee proposals then it will be easier for a non-EEA migrant who wants to come to the UK to do so, provided they have the skills and qualifications to apply for a job on the Shortage Occupation List. 
 
The best London immigration solicitors acknowledge that some may think that the timing of the MAC proposal may seem a little odd, following on closely from the European elections and with only around five months to go before the UK leaves the EU, provided of course that the Brexit October 2019 timetable does not get delayed.
 
Why is Brexit relevant to the Shortage Occupation List? The top London immigration solicitors say that under current Home Office immigration Rules if a job is on the Shortage Occupation List then non-EEA migrants can apply for the job. After Brexit, with the proposed end of free movement for EEA citizens, Home Office immigration Rules may not distinguish between EEA and non-EEA migrants applying to work in the UK.
 
Why review the Shortage Occupation List now? The MAC has not reviewed the Shortage Occupation List since 2013. Any recruiter will tell you that a lot can happen on the job front in five years.
 

How can OTS Solicitors help?    

 
OTS Solicitors regularly advise on the UK Shortage Occupation List and Tier 2 Visa applications. The business immigration team has substantial expertise in securing Tier 2 (General) Visas.
 
OTS Solicitors are recommended for immigration law in the Legal 500 directory of leading UK lawyers. OTS Solicitors have Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in immigration law.
 
For more information on Tier 2 visas or any other aspect of immigration law please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors.
 

What is the Shortage Occupation List? 

 
Prior to top London immigration solicitors looking at the MAC proposals, it is worth going back to basics and answering the question “what is the Shortage Occupation List?”
 
At present when an employer wants to employ a non-EEA national to fill a skilled job vacancy in the UK the employer needs to ensure that the employee has a Tier 2 general or skilled worker visa. To secure the visa, the job has to be:
 
• Advertised in accordance with strict Home Office rules to fulfil the Resident Labour Market Test; or 
• On the UK Shortage Occupation List. If the role is on the Shortage Occupation List, the vacancy does not need to be advertised in accordance with the Resident Labour Market Test.    
 

What is the UK skills gap?

 
The jobs on the UK Shortage Occupation List are jobs that the government acknowledges cannot be met by UK national recruitment alone and hence are the “skills gap”. 
 
The best London immigration solicitors say that the big bonus to UK employers of the expansion of the UK Shortage Occupation List is that it will be easier for UK employers to recruit non-EEA nationals without the hassle and expense of having to conduct the Resident Labour Market Test.
 

The MAC Report and the Shortage Occupation List 

 
Professor Alan Manning, chairperson of the Migration Advisory Committee, has said that a number of industries are facing difficulties finding UK recruits with the right skills to fill job vacancies. This is because: 
 
• Not enough UK citizens are training for some jobs, for example enrolment at medical and veterinary schools is down; 
• Some occupations are seen as unfashionable in the UK, for example biochemists;
• Some occupations involving unsocial work hours are difficult to fill vacancies, for example shift work; 
• The UK is enjoying a period of low unEmployment and those who are unemployed do not have the skills to carry out the roles on the Shortage Occupation List;
• There has been a reduction in EEA migrants exercising free movement rights and taking up jobs on the Shortage Occupation List without the need to apply for a visa or comply with immigration controls;
• Growth in the economy in some sectors has led to a recruitment crisis that cannot be met nationally.  
Some of the professions on the proposed expanded Shortage Occupation List may surprise some. For example, MAC proposes that the list is extended to include architects, psychologists, occupational therapists and engineers. Other job categories have been broadened, so for example, all types of medical doctors are included in the proposed extended Shortage Occupation List, rather than limited to medical specialisations or to seniority of doctor.
 
If the government accepts the MAC proposals on the Shortage Occupation List, the top London immigration solicitors say that it will mean an increase from less than one percent to nine per cent of workforce jobs on the Shortage Occupation List. According to the committee, in real terms, about 2.5 million workers jobs would be added to the revised Shortage Occupation List if the MAC proposals are fully accepted by the government. 
 
The committee said some jobs should be removed from the Shortage Occupation List as, for example, currently the UK has sufficient buyers, procurement officers, and IT specialist managers.
 

The advantages of an expanded Shortage Occupation List 

 

The Home Office has said that it will respond to the MAC report but it is anticipated that the proposals will be accepted. To the top London immigration solicitors and recruiters that is good news because an expansion of the Shortage Occupation List makes it easier for UK employers to employ non-EEA migrants on a Tier 2 (General) Visa. This is because:
 
 If a job is on the Shortage Occupation List, there is no need for an employer to carry out a Resident Labour Market Test before recruiting a migrant worker from outside the EEA. This saves the employer time and money;
 The visa application fees are lower for workers applying for visas to enter the UK to work in a role on the Shortage Occupation List;  
 If a job is on the Shortage Occupation List then if the Tier 2 (General) Visa limit of 20,700 is reached, the job roles on the Shortage Occupation List are automatically granted 320 points. The effect of this is that jobs on the Shortage Occupation List cannot be turned down when the cap of 20,700 binds;
 If a job role has been on the Shortage Occupation List, there is no requirement to meet the £35,800 salary threshold required for settlement after five years. 
 
Recruiting from non-EEA countries is a real necessity for many businesses as they have been hit with record levels of low UK unEmployment figures and a growing skills gap with UK recruits not having the skills and expertise to meet the recruitment demand at a time. This, combined with Brexit making EU migrants with free movement more cautious of moving to work in the UK means there is a pressing need to expand the Shortage Occupation List and make it fit for purpose.   
 

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

 
OTS Solicitors regularly advise on the UK Shortage Occupation List and Tier 2 Visa applications. The business immigration team can carry out Resident Labour Market Tests to ensure that the test does not delay recruitment plans for busy business owners. 
 
OTS Solicitors are recommended for immigration law in the Legal 500 publication of leading UK lawyers. OTS Solicitors have Law Society accredited solicitors status as trusted specialists in immigration law.
 
For more information on Tier 2 visas or any other aspect of immigration law please call us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced London immigration solicitors who will be happy to help.
 

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