Tier 2 (General) Applications for Shortage Occupations
If an employer wants to employ a non EEA-national who does not already have the right to work for them, they must have a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence and assign a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to the prospective employee. The employee will then use this CoS to apply for a Tier 2 (General) visa.
When sponsoring a non EEA-national to fill a role in a UK business, the employer must normally show that there is no suitable settled worker to fill the role. This does not apply if the role is on the Shortage Occupation List. The contents of the list are recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee according to skills shortages within the UK.
There are three main advantages to being able to recruit from the Shortage Occupation List:
- No need to advertise. In most Tier 2 (General) applications the UK employer must have advertised the role for 28 days to prove that there is no suitable candidate in the resident labour market. However, if the job appears on the Shortage Occupation List then there is no need to advertise the role.
- Priority treatment. Applications to work in shortage occupations are given higher priority within the Tier 2 annual limit.
- Exemption from earnings threshold for settlement. From 6 April 2016, applicants who wish to settle under Tier 2 (General) will have to show that their salary is a minimum of £35,000 in order to settle permanently in the UK. Applicants working in shortage occupations only have to demonstrate that they are paid the appropriate rate for their role.
What is on the list?
The Shortage Occupation List was updated in April 2015. It includes a wide range of roles, including (but not limited to):
- Specific jobs in visual effects and computer animation for film, television or video games;
- Maths, chemistry and physics secondary school teachers;
- Specific civil, mechanical and electrical engineering jobs;
- Specific engineering roles in the oil and gas industry;
- Skilled chefs.
All these roles are subject to very strict criteria. For example, skilled chefs must have at least 5 years’ relevant experience in a role of at least equivalent status to the role they are applying for.
There is a separate list of shortage occupations for Scotland. These occupations are in addition to the UK-wide list. A role that appears on the Scottish list must be located in Scotland.
Tips for making a successful application
It is essential that the job description on the Certificate of Sponsorship is well-written and reflects that the role falls within the occupation classification on the Shortage Occupation List.
Sponsors must also pay close attention to any additional requirements in the Shortage Occupation List. For instance, in some occupations the employer must retain references from the employee’s previous companies. It is vital that this is done, as this would be picked up in any Home Office visit.
Although shortage occupations are exempt from the advertising requirement, they are not exempt from the requirement to apply for a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship where one is needed. If a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship is required, this will affect the timescale of the application.
For advice and assistance with applying for entry clearance or leave to remain as a Tier 2 General migrant in a Shortage Occupation, contact our business immigration barristers in London.