MAC report recommends relaxing the Tier 2 visa system for certain job roles
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has reviewed the existing Shortage Occupation List for the first time since 2013. Its review, published on 29 May 2019, recommends the Government makes significant changes to the list as soon as possible to reflect the increasing difficulty in filling certain roles.
The MAC found that employers in certain industries are finding it difficult to recruit skilled people due to the low unemployment rate. It recommends adding a number of jobs including vets, web designers and architects to the Shortage Occupation List. It also recommends broadening other occupations already on the list to include for example, all kinds of medical practitioners and programmers and software development professionals. If the Government implements the MAC’s recommendations the updated list will cover around 9% of jobs in the labour market, compared to 1% under the existing list.
How will this affect employers?
UK employers who hold a sponsor licence and want to hire staff from outside the EU can sponsor them on a Tier 2 (General) visa if the role is sufficiently skilled and paid. Where the vacant role is not on the Shortage Occupation List the employer usually needs to advertise the role for 28 days as part of the resident labour market test. This can delay the recruitment process by at least a month and can be time consuming and costly for employers.
If the Government extends the Shortage Occupation List it will not be necessary to advertise these roles. There are other advantages of a role being on the list too:
- The visa fees for applicants and their families are lower
- The roles have priority if the annual 20,700 limit on Tier 2 (General) visas is reached
- It is not necessary to meet the £35,800 salary threshold required to settle here after five years
If the Government implements these changes employers should check whether any of their vacancies appear on the updated list. If they do it should be much easier and cheaper to recruit non-EU workers into these roles.
What about Brexit?
The MAC notes that its recommendations are only applicable under the current UK immigration system, while EU free movement remains. We don’t know yet what the post-Brexit immigration system will look like, but the Government’s 2018 White Paper suggests that EU and non-EU migrants will be subject to the same UK visa rules which will be significantly relaxed. For example, the paper suggests that the Government will scrap both the resident labour market test and the yearly cap on Tier 2 visas. If so the Shortage Occupation List will be largely redundant and so the MAC also recommends a full review of the list, once there is a clearer picture of what the future immigration system will look like.
You can read the full report here
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