To sponsor an individual outside of the UK under Tier 2 (General) of the points-based system for a skilled job that is not on the list of shortage occupations, you have to first complete a resident labour market test (RLMT).
A completed RLMT demonstrates that there is no suitable settled worker who can carry out the job.
About the RLMT
When applying for both restricted and unrestricted certificates of sponsorship (CoS) employers will need to demonstrate that they have carried out a RLMT unless the post is on the shortage occupation list or there is an exemption as outlined below.
Nursing was added to the shortage occupation list on 15 October 2015 but in a change to the rules, employers have been required to still carry out a RLMT before recruiting a non-EEA nurse from 24 November 2016. Find out more information in our Tier 2 policy changes section.
All medical practitioners were added to the shortage occupation list on 6 October 2019 and therefore are not subject to RLMT.
Exemptions from the RLMT
Existing employees and switching immigration categories
Current exemptions apply to individuals who already have permission to stay and work in the UK in any of these categories, and are switching into Tier 2:
- Tier 1 (post-study work)
- the International Graduates Scheme
- the Fresh Talent Working in Scotland Scheme
- the Science and Engineering Graduates Scheme
- Tier 4 as a student and they have received final results confirming that they have passed and will be (or have been) awarded a UK recognised bachelor's or master's degree, or have passed and will be (or have been) awarded a UK Postgraduate Certificate in Education, or have completed a minimum of 12 months study in the UK towards a UK PhD.
You also do not need to complete a RLMT if:
- the annual salary for the job is £159,600 or above.
Doctors and dentists
Employers do not need to complete a RLMT for postgraduate doctors or dentists in further speciality training in the UK who need to apply for further permission to stay under Tier 2 (general) to allow them to complete their training after an out-of-programme experience.
If a postgraduate doctor or dentist in speciality training wants to carry out their out-of-programme experience in the UK, the organisation providing the programme must become their new sponsor. The current sponsor (usually the NHS trust) must notify UK visas and immigration that it no longer has sponsorship responsibilities. The new sponsor must assign a new CoS and carry out the RLMT.
When the out-of-programme experience is complete, the individual may need to return to their specialty training. The original sponsor must assign a new CoS, but will not need to complete a RLMT. It must confirm on the CoS that an exception to the RLMT applies.
Postgraduate doctors and dentists are given a national training number (NTN). The sponsor must produce this on request as evidence that the migrant was undertaking specialty training before their out-of-programme experience. PhD-level occupations are also exempt, Tier 2 (General) sponsors do not need to appoint a suitable settled worker when carrying out the RLMT for PhD-level occupations, if a migrant applicant is better qualified for the post.
Current advertising vacancies process
The RLMT requires that vacancies are subject to a four-week advertising period (28 days). This four-week period does not have to be continuous. Employers have the following options available to them:
- You will be able to advertise skilled jobs under Tier 2 of the points-based system for an initial period of no less than seven days. If a suitable resident worker applies, you can appoint them straight away.
- If no suitable resident labour worker is available, you cannot appoint a migrant worker at this stage but must re-advertise for the remainder of the 28 days. If no suitable resident labour market worker is identified at this stage, employers can then consider appointing a Tier 2 migrant.
- Another option is to advertise for the full four weeks and go through the normal recruitment and selection process.
The vacancy must have been advertised for at least 28 days within the six months before you assign the CoS to a migrant.
Advertising requirements and criteria for identifying suitable media are set out in Appendix A of the Immigration Rules, relating to Tier 2 (General) migrants. You must place two advertisements using the methods set out in the immigration rules. In most instances employers will meet the RLMT through the automatic transfer that exists so that vacancies advertised on NHS Jobs will also be listed on the Find a job service (which replaced the Universal Jobmatch website in May 2018).
Employers need to capture evidence to demonstrate to UK Visas and Immigration that an RLMT has been carried out. This evidence should be a screenshot from the find a job website and evidence of another form of advertising the job (generally on the NHS Jobs website). Employers should capture:
- a screenshot that shows the vacancy details and closing date on the find a job website; and
- a screenshot of the NHS jobs website advertisement with closing date.
Please note it is worth obtaining a screenshot for evidence while it is live on the Find a job website.