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Changes to the Shortage Occupation List

Shortage Occupation List, Lab Technicians

10 second summary:

"A number of health, science and teaching roles have been added to the Shortage Occupation List and Chefs have been removed. Particularly good news for employers of lab technicians and senior care workers"

The Home Office has today made several changes to the UK’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL), impacting future applications for Skilled Worker visas by individuals filling a wide range of roles from chefs to lab technicians to senior care workers. These changes represent the most significant amendments to the SOL in several years, and follow the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendations published in September 2020.

Roles added to the Shortage Occupation List

The main advantage of a role being on the list, at least for employers, is that the minimum salary threshold to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa is typically lower than it would otherwise be. The following additions have seen significant changes to the minimum salary threshold:

Occupation Code (all jobs within these codes have been added to the SOL)Minimum salary threshold before the change*Minimum salary threshold after the change*Median salary, 2020**
1181 – Health services and public health managers and directors£38,400£30,720£50,837
1242 – Residential, day and domiciliary care managers and proprietors£26,700£21,360£36,587
3111 – Laboratory technicians£25,600£20,480£21,069
6146 – Senior care workers£25,600£20,480£21,243
*Assuming the applicant works 39 hours a week and does not qualify for any additional points as a New Entrant or by holding a relevant PhD
**Data from Office of National Statistics, available here

When considering the median annual salary for roles in these occupation codes, it’s likely that these changes will have the biggest impact for employers of lab technicians and senior care workers, since the minimum salary threshold is now lower than the median salary for these roles.

The Home Office has also added a number of other health occupation codes to the list, but since these roles require the applicant to be paid in line with national pay scales, there will be no change to the minimum salary threshold.

  • 2213 – Pharmacists
  • 2219 – Health professionals not elsewhere classified
  • 2221 – Physiotherapists
  • 6141 – Nursing auxiliaries and assistants

The Shortage Occupation List has also been expanded to include additional job titles within occupation code 2314 Secondary education teaching professionals. Teachers of Mandarin had previously been on the list, but this has now been expanded to cover all secondary teachers of modern foreign languages.

Individuals applying for a Skilled Worker visa to fill a role that is on the Shortage Occupation List also benefit from a slightly reduced application fee – from £610 down to £464 for applications made outside the UK, and from £704 down to £464 for applications made in the UK.

Roles removed from the Shortage Occupation List

The Home Office has removed Skilled Chefs from the Shortage Occupation List. In practice however, this make very little difference, since only chef roles that paid at least £29,570 per year were included on the list. Since December 2020, it has been (and remains) possible to sponsor a chef with a salary of £25,600, simply by ignoring the Shortage Occupation List. The only real change will be that highly paid chefs will now lose the aforementioned reduction to the cost of applying for a visa.

Our thoughts

If you’re an employer of lab technicians or senior care workers and are currently experiencing recruitment difficulties, these changes may be of significant benefit to you. Employers of other jobs will notice little difference.

That’s not to say that a role being (or not being) on the Shortage Occupation List is the be-all and end-all. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no restriction that you can only sponsor migrant workers to fill roles on the Shortage Occupation List – Since December 2020, the Skilled Worker route has been open to a very wide range of roles. Normally the minimum salary threshold is the limiting factor as to whether lower and medium skilled jobs are eligible for sponsorship, but that’s not always the case. Applicants at the start of their careers can often qualify with a salary even lower than that required by the role being on the Shortage Occupation List.

All in all, it’s important to look at each case on its own merits and assess whether sponsorship is a viable option. If you’re interested in finding out more, contact us for a free initial conversation.

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