Shortage Occupation List expanded – good news for tech companies

September 12, 2019

Restrictions lifted with immediate effect

On Monday 9th September the Government made good on its promise to accept the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC)’s recommendation to significantly expand the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).  The MAC advises the Government on immigration matters. For employers wishing to sponsor migrants under the Tier 2 (General) category, jobs which appear on the SOL do not need to be advertised for 28 days in line with the Resident Labour Market Test and benefit from prioritisation in the monthly restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) panels.  This is relevant when the monthly limit on Tier 2 restricted CoS is reached and only those roles scoring the most points are granted a CoS.

The Government has clearly listened to the concerns of employers that the Shortage Occupation List did not reflect the actual shortages UK companies faced when recruiting within the UK market.  As a result, the MAC recommended the addition of several jobs previously not represented on the SOL. 

Notably, the tech sector benefits from this boon.  Citing the rapid growth of the digital sector, its sector-diverse impact and job creation, the MAC recommended that the SOL be expanded to include in full jobs under Standard Occupational Codes and have included- Programmers and software development professionals and  IT business analysts, architects and systems designers in the SOL.  Other notable inclusions in the SOL are in the fields of Engineering, Health Occupations and the Sciences.

There are restrictions, however.  For all IT posts, migrants must demonstrate that they have five years’ experience and have led a team in order to qualify.  Also, for most jobs under the IT codes, sponsors cannot have more than 10 migrants sponsored by virtue of being on the Shortage Occupation List at any one time and only sponsors with between 20 and 250 employees qualify to sponsor a migrant. If  a company has fewer than 20 employees, they need a letter from the Department for International Trade confirming it supports the application.  There is also a higher level of evidence required to be retained on file in compliance with sponsor recording duties. 

Despite these limitations, however, it is good news for tech.  For many senior IT roles, employers can avoid a 28-day delay in the Resident Labour Market Test and rely on prioritisation in the monthly restricted Certificate of Sponsorship panels.


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