USA and the UK
What is the Shortage Occupation List?
Every year, the UK government creates a list of occupations that it deems are in short supply. In an attempt to remedy this deficit, the UK government creates a shortage occupation list where it lists the jobs that employers struggle to recruit for within the UK. Jobs on this list can be more easily filled by non-British workers under a Skilled Worker Visa.
The Shortage Occupation List (SOL) is regularly updated by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) who recommend what occupations should be listed based on their set of criteria. Jobs on the SOL benefit employers who can then hire workers from abroad with lower salary thresholds and without performing a Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). Workers who apply for jobs on the shortage occupation list benefit from lower application fees.
What is a Skilled Worker Visa?
Skilled Worker Visas, formerly known as Tier 2 visas, allow non-British workers to come to the UK under an employer’s sponsorship. The UK employer must be approved by the Home Office and pay a minimum salary based on the type of work being done.
In addition to the worker meeting the requirements and demands of the job, the employee must also read, write and speak English proficiently. Under this visa, the worker can stay and work in the UK for 5 years. If the visa needs to be extended or if the worker has changed jobs, they must re-apply for a new visa.
How does the Shortage Occupation List work?
Under the new UK Points Based system, foreign workers are assessed and given points based on a number of factors including job skill level, English language fluency and the salary being offered. To be eligible for a Skilled Worker Visa, the potential worker must earn 70 points in the points scheme in order to qualify. Below is a summary of how points are awarded where non-tradeable characteristics are mandatory but tradeable characteristics are variable or interchangeable based on the employment offer and/or a person’s education and qualifications.
Non-tradeable characteristics which are mandatory:
- Offer of the job by an approved sponsor: 20 points
- Job at an appropriate skill level: 20 points
- Speaks English at the required level: 10 points
- Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039 : 0 points
- Salary of £23,040 – £25,599: 10 points
- Salary of £25,600 or above: 20 points
- Job in shortage occupations (as designated by the MAC): 20 points
- Ph.D. in a subject relevant to the job: 10 points
- Ph.D. in a STEM subject relevant to the job: 20 points
Jobs that are on the SOL will automatically be given 20 points that are tradeable against a salary that is up to 20% below minimum salary in their specific field’s job role. In other words, the tradeable points can only replace the points you get for the salary requirement not being met.
In addition, shortage occupations on the list are exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). This means that the employer will not have to advertise exclusively to local UK job seekers for 28 days before looking to hire from abroad.
How does a job get on the UK Shortage Occupation List?
In order to be on the SOL, jobs must meet certain requirements and be recommended by MAC. In order to be considered, the occupation must be experiencing a current shortage, must require a certain skill level, and can be reasonably filled with non-British citizens if no local UK workers are available.
An occupational shortage is calculated on nine data-driven indicators of labor market conditions which are derived from national representative datasets. These are then considered with the evidence presented by stakeholders. After a list is made of jobs that are in current short supply, they will then be assessed to see if they qualify for the SOL via a series of questions, such as:
- What are the alternatives to hiring non-UK workers and are these alternatives feasible? Have employers tried or considered these alternatives and if so, what problems did they encounter?
- How would the skills acquisition of the UK workforce be impacted by hiring foreign workers? Would it have a positive influence or have a negative impact? (In other words, would they benefit from learning from foreign skilled workers?)
- Is there a sufficient amount of UK workers who are in training or education to fill these shortages? Will the hiring of foreign skilled workers reduce the incentives of UK Businesses for investing in further training of their local employees?
- How will the employment of non-UK workers affect the country’s investment, innovation and productivity growth as a whole? Will it improve the UK’s international competitive standing in certain fields?
- How will job outsourcing affect the wider UK labor market and economy?
- What will happen to the UK if the job shortage in this sector continues?
- Are these shortage occupations highly valuable to the public?
If it is decided that there is no other solution to the shortage and that the United Kingdom would benefit from the hiring of foreign workers, the occupation will then be put on the Shortage List.
UK Shortage Occupation List
According to the gov.uk website, only the following jobs are classified as shortage occupations:
- Health services and public health managers and directors
- Residential, day, and domiciliary care managers and proprietors
- Chemical scientists in the nuclear industry (Only in Scotland)
- Biological scientists and biochemists
- Physical scientists in the construction-related ground engineering industry (engineering geologist, hydrogeologist, or geophysicist)
- Physical scientists in the oil and gas industry (geophysicist, geoscientist, geologist, geochemist, technical services manager in the decommissioning and waste areas of the nuclear industry, senior resource geologist and staff geologist in the mining sector)
- Civil engineers
- Bricklayers, plasterers and other construction industry roles
- Fishing occupations
- Mechanical engineers
- Electrical engineers
- Electronics engineers
- Design and development engineers
- Production and process engineers
- Engineering professionals not elsewhere classified
- IT business analysts, architects, and systems designers
- Programmers and software development professionals
- Web design and development professionals
- Cybersecurity specialists
- Bio-informaticians and informaticians
- Quality control and planning engineers
- Laboratory technicians
- Skilled classical ballet dancers or skilled contemporary dancers who meet the standard required by internationally recognized UK ballet or contemporary dance companies. The company must be endorsed as being internationally recognized by a UK industry body such as the Arts Councils (of England, Scotland, or Wales).
- Skilled orchestral musicians who are leaders, principals, sub-principals or numbered string positions, and who meet the standard required by internationally recognized UK orchestras. The orchestra must be endorsed as being internationally recognized by the Association of British Orchestras.
- Arts officers, producers, and directors
- Graphic designers
- High integrity pipe welders (this job requires 3 or more years’ related on-the-job experience. This experience must not have been gained through illegal working.)
- Senior care workers
Jobs on this list can pay a minimum 80% of the job’s usual going rate in order to qualify for a Skilled Worker Visa. If you are interested in the specifics of what 80% of the annual salary for a certain job on the Shortage Occupation List is, go to the gov.UK website to find out. All annual salaries for these jobs are based on a 39-hour working week.
How do I apply for a job on the Shortage Occupation List?
If you are applying for a job that is on the SOL, you must first file for a UK Skilled Worker
Visa. To do this, you must first meet the requirements which are as follows:
- You must have a valid passport
- You must receive a job offer from a UK employer who has a sponsorship license
- The job offer must be a ‘genuine vacancy’ and at an appropriate skill level
- You must be given a certificate of sponsorship from your UK employer (this provides detail and information on the employment offered and issued no more than 3 months before your visa application date)
- The job must provide you with a minimum salary calculated on the going rate of your occupation
- You must be fluent in English (if not from an English-speaking country, you must meet Level B1 or above of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages)
- You must have enough money to support yourself whilst in the UK (at least £1,270 which you must maintain for 28 days in a row prior to your entry into the UK)
- You must have a clear Tuberculosis (TB) test result letter
- You must provide a criminal record certificate (if applicable)
Once you have gathered all of your documents together, you can apply online for a work visa. If you have dependents such as spouses or children who you would like to join you in the UK, they must file separately.
When you apply you will be asked to confirm your identity. You can do this with biometric data that was collected at a visa application center or through the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app that will scan your identity documents and upload them to your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account. When you apply, you will be informed on what method of ID confirmation to use to complete the application.
You can apply for the visa up to 3 months before the starting date of your new job. If you apply from outside the UK, you will usually receive a decision within 3 weeks. Those who are already in the UK and applying may have to wait up to 8 weeks for a decision.
How can IAS help me?
The UK Points Based System can be especially tricky and confusing for immigrant workers. If you are interested in working in the UK, you will be far more likely to be offered a job on the UK Shortage Occupation List.
Our immigration lawyers stay up to date with the latest Home Office news and UK immigration guidelines including all the regular updates to the Shortage Occupation List. We can help guide you through every step of your work visa application and make sure that it is completed to the very highest standard.
Contact us now on +1 844 290 6312 to speak with one of our expert lawyers about your Skilled Worker application and the SOL. Or, use our online contact form to speak with an adviser. We are here to help!
Last modified on July 22nd, 2023 at 7:46 am
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Spouses, unmarried partners and children under the age of 18 of the skilled worker are eligible to join you as dependents. If approved their visa(s) will end on the same date as yours.
The positions on the Shortage Occupation List are all long-term positions. To take on any skilled, permanent roles in the UK, you need a Skilled Worker Visa. Skilled, temporary work is not subject to the RLMT but you will need to apply for a Temporary Work Visa.
Our team of expert lawyers can assist you if you are either looking for work in the UK or have been offered a UK job offer.
As part of the service, you will be matched with one of our expert immigration lawyers.
- Assess your different options, based on your skills and experience
- Determine if you qualify for a professional role on the UK Shortage Occupation List
- Gather, check and file your documents into an extensive evidence portfolio to present to the Home Office
- Liaise with your UK sponsor and arrange your Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
- Provide a detailed Letter of Representation to accompany your application. This letter will discuss your case and legal support
- Monitor your work visa application once it has been submitted
- Liaise with the Home Office until a decision is reached
Contact us at +1844 290 6312 or make an inquiry online for more information about the Shortage Occupation List and Work Visas. Our lawyers can advise you on the best course of action for your personal situation.