Updates on the new immigration system - shortage occupation list and Skilled Worker category

29 September 2020

We have two further updates for you on the new immigration system.
 

1. Shortage occupation list

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has today published its recommendations for the shortage occupation list. The government will now consider the report. As covered in our update of 18 May 2020, the MAC was asked to advise on which job types should be included on the shortage occupation list in the new immigration system.

Under the current Tier 2 system, where an employer is sponsoring someone in a shortage occupation role it gives very useful benefits because the resident labour market test advertisement process can be avoided. Tier 2 will be replaced by a new Skilled Worker category on 1 January 2021 and the resident labour market test will be suspended meaning much of the benefits of sponsoring a shortage occupation role are lost. However, under the new Skilled Worker route, sponsoring a shortage occupation role achieves extra points and means the qualifying salary can be lower than £25,600 or the going rate for the role, which is higher.
 
The MAC has advised that certain RQF level 6 roles should be added to the shortage occupation list, such as health services and public health managers and directors, pharmacists and physiotherapists.  The required skill level under the new immigration system will be lowered to RQF level 3 (aside from Intra Company Transfer applications which will still need to be at level 6). The MAC also recommended some RQF level 3 -5 roles should be on the shortage occupation list including for example IT Operations Technicians (such as computer games testers, database administrators, network administrators and systems administrators), business system and data analysts as well as nursing auxiliaries and assistants, residential/day/domiciliary care managers and proprietors, senior care workers, butchers, bricklayers and masons.
 
Clients in the hospitality sector will notice the MAC has recommended removal of Chefs from the shortage occupation list due to concerns not enough is being done to train chefs from the domestic workforce.

2. Further insight on the new Skilled Worker rules 

Through our communications with senior level policy advisors at the Home Office, we have gained new insight on the rules surrounding the new Skilled Worker category from 1 January 2021.  Our FAQs on the new immigration system have been updated to include indications from the Home Office that:

  • The current 6-year maximum duration for Tier 2 (General) visas will not apply to Skilled Worker visas. If someone does not qualify for indefinite leave to remain – for instance because they have spent too much time outside the UK – they can keep extending their visa until they do qualify.
  • The current £35,800 minimum salary for indefinite leave to remain will be scrapped. Under the new system the minimum salary for indefinite leave to remain as a Skilled Worker / Tier 2 (General) migrant will be the same as for a Skilled Worker visa: the general salary threshold or the going rate for the SOC code, whichever is higher.
  • There will be transitional provisions benefitting current Tier 2 (General) migrants who need to extend their visas under the Skilled Worker route. In most cases this will not be relevant because the Skilled Worker rules are more generous, but where the Skilled Worker rules are stricter (on salary/allowances for instance) Tier 2 (General) migrants extending their visas under the Skilled Worker route will be able to rely on the old Tier 2 (General) rules.  For example, those with Tier 2 (Intra Company Transfer) visas whose overall salary package includes permitted allowances will continue to be able to include these in the future.

We expect new Immigration Rules on the Skilled Worker category to be laid shortly and will keep you updated on developments and immigration rule changes affecting your business. 

In the meantime, if you have any queries in relation to the above changes or any other immigration matter, please contact a member of the immigration team

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