The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) – the Home Office appointed independent immigration advisory body – has published its review of the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).
The MAC recommends adding several occupations to the SOL, including veterinarians, web designers and architects, and broadening others, including engineering, IT, the arts and healthcare, to include all roles within that occupation. The effect would be to expand the list from about 1% of total employment to about 9%.
The review’s other recommendations include:
- a consideration of medium-skilled occupations which may become eligible for the SOL in the future system;
- the inclusion of Gaelic teachers in the Scotland-only SOL;
- pilots to expand the evidence-base on what might work in migration policy for remote communities;
- removing the restriction on chef visas, which currently excludes those offering a takeaway service. This is in recognition of the changing nature of the hospitality sector and with the aim of future-proofing the list;
- the addition of Northern Irish and Welsh SOLs to the existing UK list and Scotland-only SOL.
What Is the Shortage Occupation List?
The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) facilitates hiring of non-EEA nationals for job roles which are in short supply:
- Applications for SOL roles are exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT), saving time for the employer;
- SOL roles are prioritised if the Tier 2 (General) cap is reached;
- There is no requirement to meet the £35,800 salary threshold required for settlement after five years, if the job title has been on the SOL at any point in those five years;
- Applicants (and their families) face lower visa application fees if their occupation is on the SOL.
What Happens Next?
The government will consider the recommendations in the MAC review and respond in due course.
The MAC notes that its recommendations are only applicable under the current immigration system, while EU free movement remains, and recommends a full review of the SOL once there is a clearer picture of what the future post-Brexit immigration system will look like.
No action is necessary at this time. However, employers currently using the Shortage Occupation List to bring foreign national employees to the UK should note that it is likely to be changed in the near future.
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