Shortage occupation list

Writing on paper

The shortage occupation list is an official list of occupations for which there are not enough resident workers to fill vacancies. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) regularly reviews the list and calls for evidence of which occupations should be included or removed.

About the shortage occupation list

Employers who wish to recruit an individual from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland to fill a vacancy that is on the shortage occupation list, may issue a Tier 2 certificate of sponsorship (CoS) without the need to demonstrate that a resident labour market test (RLMT) has been carried out.

Migrants who come to the UK to fill a skilled job in Tier 2 on the shortage occupation list will gain enough points without proving their prospective earnings or qualifications.

Prior to issuing the Tier 2 CoS, employers should check if any changes have been made to the shortage occupation list during the period of recruitment. If the list has been amended and the occupation being recruited to has been removed, the individual will not be able to claim points for shortage occupation.

It is important to note that employers can still recruit from overseas if the occupation is not on the list, however in this situation the resident labour market test (RLMT) will apply. For more information please see our RLMT web page.

A current list of shortage occupations can be found on the UK Visas and Immigration pages of the website.

How often are changes made to the shortage occupation list?

As part of the ongoing assessment around skill shortages in the UK, the MAC is commissioned to undertake regular reviews of the shortage occupation list.

On October 6 2019, the shortage occupation list was updated in line with the MAC's recommendation to add medical practitioners and several other health roles to the list.

In November 2018, the MAC invited stakeholders to provide evidence to inform their review of the shortage occupation list. The MAC are currently analysing feedback and will publish the outcome in due course. You can read NHS Employers response to the call for evidence on our website.

In November 2015, which included the addition of nursing. This was an interim measure by request from the government, following increasing concerns from employers about nursing supply. In March 2016, following a review by the MAC on nursing supply and demand, the government announced that nursing will remain on the national shortage occupation list, but employers will need to carry out a RLMT before recruiting a non-EEA nurse (from 24 November 2016). 

Will 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 any vacancy that exists. Providing you can demonstrate that the post has been advertised and there were no suitable applicants from the resident labour market, an individual from overseas may be selected and appointed if they meet all the eligibility criteria for Tier 2. 

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.

Latest updates on the shortage occupation list

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

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