The Loop: Shortage Occupation List changes
Welcome back to work, everybody. In this issue of The Loop, Spencer West LLP’s Immigration Law Partner Samar Shams explains the expansion of the Shortage Occupation List in the changes to the Immigration Rules published on 9 September 2019.
Businesses holding sponsor licences are no longer required to advertise tech, engineering, medical and creative roles before sponsoring skilled non-EEA nationals.
Advertising and the shortage occupation list
Sponsors filling roles on the shortage occupation list do not have to fulfil the Resident Labour Market Test, to show that no UK settled workers are available to fill the role, before hiring non-EEA nationals. The government recognises that the resident labour supply is inadequate for roles it includes on the list.
How will sponsorship be easier?
The change will make a big difference to a lot of sponsors because the Resident Labour Market Test requirement is onerous. The test is most commonly satisfied by advertising a vacancy on the Find a Job service website and at least one other website. The advertisements have to run for at least 28 days. Together with other complex timing requirements, the advertising process can slow down a hiring process and adversely affect business plans. Sponsors are also required to keep meticulous, particular documentation of the advertising and of the recruitment process in general.
Note that inclusion on the shortage occupation list does not exempt a sponsor from having to request a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship where required.
When does the change take effect?
For roles added to the Shortage Occupation List, where a sponsor assigns a certificate of sponsorship on or after 6 October 2019, they will not have to advertise the roles.
Which jobs are being added to the list?
The shortage occupation list is organised by Standard Occupational Codes. Each code has an identifying number and title, and includes example job tasks, related job titles and minimum salary rates. Sponsors must match the role they would like to fill with the most appropriate Standard Occupational Code. For some Standard Occupational Codes, all roles they cover have been added to the Shortage Occupation List; for other Standard Occupational Codes, only some of the roles that fall within the code qualify as shortage occupation roles.
- All roles falling under Standard Occupational Classification code ‘2135 IT business analysts, architects and systems designers’
- All roles under ‘2136 Programmers and software development professionals’
- All roles under ‘2137 Web design and development professionals’; and
- Cyber security specialists, who fall under ‘2139 Information technology and communications professionals not elsewhere classified’.
From 6 October 2019, sponsors will not have to participate in the digital technology scheme in order to sponsor non-EEA nationals to work in the above roles.
Engineering roles relevant to several industries including construction and manufacturing are on the revised Shortage Occupation List. All roles falling under the Standard Occupational Codes for civil, mechanical, electrical, electronics, design and development, and production and process engineers are included. Do not worry if the engineer your business needs to sponsor does not fall within one of those categories. ‘Engineering professionals not elsewhere classified’ are included on the revised list too.
Also relevant for the construction industry is the inclusion of the Standard Occupational Classification code for Architects and certain roles in the construction-related ground engineering industry. Quantity surveyors are on the revised list too.
Medical, veterinary and therapist roles
The following roles are included on the revised Shortage Occupation List:
- All roles falling under Standard Occupational Code ‘2211 Medical practitioners’, which includes doctors such as general practitioners and surgeons;
- All psychologists;
- All medical Radiographers;
- All paramedics;
- All veterinarians;
- All occupational therapists; and
- All speech and language therapists.
Nurses are already included on the Shortage Occupation List and are maintained on the revised list.
All roles falling under the Standard Occupational Classification Code for Artists are included. Artist roles are categorised as being at a lower skill level than is usually required for sponsorship. However, inclusion on the Shortage Occupation List affords sponsors an exemption from the skill requirement. Illustrators and restorers can be sponsored under this code.
Other creative jobs added to the list are graphic designers and arts officers, producers and directors.
Apply for a sponsor licence, or keep the one you have
The above changes to the Immigration Rules, together with the possibility that EEA nationals will fall under the same sponsorship system, mean that it is good time for a business to apply for a licence to sponsor skilled workers from overseas.
A business that already sponsors workers might want to review its compliance with sponsorship requirements.
A sponsor licence is more and more vital to employers having difficulties accessing the talent they need. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with Samar at email@example.com if you have questions about sponsorship.