Shortage occupation list and resident labour market test Q&A

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This section answers questions about the current shortage occupation list and the resident labour market test process. 

What is the shortage occupation list and how can it help us recruit from overseas?

The shortage occupation list is an official list of roles where there are not enough workers in the domestic UK labour market to meet demand.  If an employer is recruiting for a role that is on the list (with the exception of nursing), they don’t have to meet the requirements of the resident labour market test (RLMT), which can significantly speed up the recruitment process. 

Roles on the shortage occupation list also attract extra points under the Tier 2 process, which effectively gives them priority at the monthly UKVI restricted certificate of sponsorship allocation meetings.

A current list of shortage occupations can be found on the gov.uk website.

How often are changes made to the shortage occupation list?

As part of the ongoing assessment around skill shortages in the UK, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is commissioned to undertake reviews of the shortage occupation list.

The MAC completed its most recent review in 2019 and the most up to date list is available on the gov.uk website. The Home Secretary has commissioned the MAC to complete another review in September 2020 on the shortage occupation list and for the time being, is not accepting any recommendations. You can read the letter to the MAC from Priti Patel on ourwebsite.

Do changes to the list affect my ability to recruit from overseas?

Removal of an occupation from the list does not mean that a Tier 2 application will not be granted for a vacancy that exists. Providing you can demonstrate that the post has been advertised and there were no suitable applicants in the UK, an individual from overseas may be selected and appointed if they meet all the eligibility criteria for a Tier 2 visa.

When satisfying the RLMT, the vacancy must have been advertised to settled workers. Vacancies are subject to a four week advertising period (28 days) however this doesn't need to be continuous. Employers should advertise skilled jobs under Tier 2 for an initial period of no less than seven days. If a suitable resident worker applies, they may be appointed straight away.

If a suitable resident labour worker cannot be found, employers 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.

If the advertising period for a job is split between two periods, it must be completed within three months. Another option is to advertise for the full four weeks and go through the normal recruitment and selection process.

See our resident labour market test web page for further information.

Nursing remains on the shortage occupation list. Does this mean that we will have more success at CoS allocation panels?

Nurses remain on the shortage occupation list.

This means:

  • applications for restricted certificates of sponsorship will be prioritised by the UKVI points allocation system - increasing the likelihood of nursing applications being granted.
  • the requirement to earn £35,000 or more to qualify for permanent settlement in the UK (indefinite leave to remain) will not apply to individuals for whom nursing has appeared on the shortage occupation list at any time during their employment in a nursing role. They will still need to meet all the other settlement criteria.

The Home Office has been really clear that employers must only apply for certificates when they need them and when they are certain they will be used. The individual being sponsored must have a job offer from you and either: 

  • have obtained full registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council; or
  • have passed the Nursing and Midwifery Council's Computer Based Test (CBT) of competence (part 1); or
  • have obtained Nursing and Midwifery Council permission before 30 April 2015 to undertake the Overseas Nursing Programme, and be sponsored to undertake a supervised practice placement as part of the programme, which has been approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
You are required to provide evidence of the above in any applications for restricted certificates of sponsorship. This evidence should be sent to Tier2limits@homeoffice.gov.uk to support your application. 


What is the resident labour market test (RLMT) and how do we meet the requirements?

The RLMT has been removed as part of the new points-based immigration system. The RLMT is the formal requirement for an employer to evidence that they have made efforts to recruit a suitable skilled worker from within the domestic UK labour market (or the EEA), before filling the vacancy with a migrant worker from outside the EEA who requires Tier 2 sponsorship.  

Although nursing is on the shortage occupation list, employers recruiting a nurse from outside the EEA must still carry out a RLMT. See our Tier 2: Policy change page for more details. Other roles on the shortage occupation list are exempt,

Please see our RLMT web page for full information on the process and requirements for employers.

In relation to requirements to advertise within six months, can there be a break in advertising?

Yes, as long as you assign the CoS to the individual within six months of the beginning of the recruitment period in order to preserve the validity of the RLMT.  

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