On 10 June 2019, we reported that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended to the government a significant expansion of the shortage occupation list. Pleasingly, in what must have been one of his last actions as Home Secretary before becoming the new Chancellor, Sajid Javid announced on 23 July 2019 that the government will be accepting the MAC’s recommendations in full.
Short of new Home Secretary Priti Patel doing a complete U-turn on the issue, the new rules are due to come into force as soon as this autumn/winter. The current shortage occupation list covers only around 1% of jobs in the UK but the expanded list would cover around 9%. The new roles on the UK shortage occupation list include, for example, web design and development professionals, architects and various scientific jobs. In addition, many of the existing shortage occupations, such as for civil engineers and certain types of IT role, will be expanded to include many new types of roles.
This will be very welcome news to all employers in these sectors, including those in the tech and architectural fields. Where a type of role is on the shortage occupation list, it means employers do not need to carry out the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) advertisement process before a Tier 2 application can proceed. Whilst the monthly quota may need to be entered for someone applying from outside the UK, where the role is on the shortage occupation list it will be prioritised. Plus UKVI fees are lower for shortage occupation roles – good news all-round!
With a new prime minister in office and focus increasing on the UK’s new post-Brexit immigration framework, it is interesting to see this development in that context. As we reported previously, the UK’s White Paper of December 2018 envisages that Europeans and non-Europeans alike will be subject to the same rules and RLMTs will be scrapped altogether. On the basis the government will be concerned by the future potential for skills shortages in a post-Brexit economy, perhaps this is an early indicative nod in that direction.