What is the change? The U.K. government has agreed to expand the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) and adopt all of the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendations to add new occupations from numerous fields, particularly health, information technology and STEM.

What does the change mean? U.K. employers should see a significant expansion in the range of jobs on the SOL from 1% of all jobs to 9% of total jobs, covering approximately 2.5 million workers. The SOL provides a list of jobs deemed to have local labor shortages, allowing companies to hire non-EEA workers to fill them without labor market testing.

  • Implementation time frame: Autumn 2019.
  • Visas/permits affected: Tier 2 (General) visas.
  • Business impact: The expansion should help ease labor shortages in certain job roles.
  • Next steps: The expanded SOL will be implemented in the Autumn Immigration Rule statement of changes, which is usually published in the fall. The Home Office also plans to adopt the MAC’s recommendation to launch a pilot program to encourage immigration to remote areas, but details will be released later on.

Background: The MAC was commissioned by the Home Office to conduct a full review of the Shortage Occupation List in June 2018. The MAC held a public Call for Evidence in late 2018 and released its report in May 2019.

On July 23, the Home Secretary at the time, Sajid Javid, announced in a statement to Parliament that the government would accept all of the MAC’s recommendations.

The recommendations include adding all jobs in the following occupational categories to the U.K.-wide SOL:

  • Programmers and software developers
  • IT business analysts, architects and systems designers
  • Web design and development professionals
  • Civil, mechanical, electrical or electronical engineers
  • Design and development engineers
  • Production and process engineers
  • Medical practitioners
  • Veterinarians
  • Quality control and planning engineers
  • Architects

The complete list of jobs recommended for the SOL is available in the MAC’s full report.

The MAC also recommended that the SOL be studied further to determine its relevancy under the future (post-Brexit) U.K. immigration system.

Analysis & Comments: The expansion of the SOL is welcome news, and it is hoped that it will ease labor shortages currently experienced by U.K. employers. Other benefits of an expanded SOL are that jobs on the list are not subject to the numerical cap on Tier 2 (General) visas if the category is oversubscribed, the government visa fees are lower for SOL jobs, and workers filling SOL roles are not required to meet the salary threshold of £35,800 for purposes of permanent residency eligibility after five years of living in the U.K.

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