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Migration Advisory Committee recommends 21 occupations for the new immigration salary list following rapid review


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The Migration Advisory Committee has completed the rapid review of the shortage occupation list that it was commissioned to carry out in late January and has recommended that 21 occupations are included on the new immigration salary list.

The government has already announced that a statement of changes will be published on 14 March 2024. In addition to increasing the earnings threshold for skilled workers from 4 April 2024, that statement of changes will implement changes following this review “from early April”, as well as removing the 20% discount to the going rate salary that can be paid to those working in jobs on the list.

Salary discount

The planned increase to the earnings threshold for skilled workers (apart from health and care workers) has already had an impact. The committee previously recommended that the 20% salary discount was removed, however they state that the increase to the threshold “substantially weakens the rationale for not being able to pay below the occupation-specific threshold”.

Previously the concern was that employers were using the list to hire migrants at the discounted rate instead of hiring UK workers and that the list was leading to migrants being exploited, however the new threshold is so high that this is no longer considered a risk. The committee encourages the government to consider this impact of the proposed threshold increase.

Occupations recommended for the new list

The committee says that the 21 occupations recommended for the new immigration salary list represent a reduction from 30% of jobs eligible for the skilled worker route, down to 8%. In October last year the committee recommended only eight jobs (and an additional two for Scotland) for the list. The reason for the increase is the increase to the skilled worker salary thresholds, which the committee said will make it “more challenging for these occupations” to use the skilled worker route.

The recommendations made by the committee in October 2023 are maintained, these are as follows:

  • Managers and proprietors in forestry, fishing and related services (SOC code 1212, Scotland only, only “fishing boat masters”)
  • Laboratory technicians (SOC code 3111, UK wide, must have three or more years’ experience)
  • Pharmaceutical technicians (SOC code 3212, UK wide)
  • Boat and ship builders and repairers (SOC code 5235, Scotland only)
  • Stonemasons and related trades (SOC code 5312, UK wide)
  • Bricklayers (SOC code 5313, UK wide)
  • Roofers, roof tilers and slaters (SOC code 5314, UK wide)
  • Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified (SOC code 5319, UK wide, only “retrofitters”)
  • Animal care services occupations not elsewhere classified (SOC code 6129, UK wide, only “racing grooms”, “stallion handlers”, “stud grooms”, “stud hands”, “stud handlers” and “work riders”)
  • Care workers and home carers (SOC code 6135, UK wide, private households or individuals (other than sole traders sponsoring someone to work for their business) cannot sponsor skilled worker applicants in non health and care worker eligible jobs)
  • Senior care workers (SOC code 6136, UK wide)

Occupations that have now also been recommended for the list due to the increased salary thresholds are:

  • Chemical scientists (SOC code 2111, Scotland only, only jobs in the nuclear industry)
  • Biological scientists (SOC code 2112, UK wide, all non-health and care worker eligible jobs)
  • Social and humanities scientists (SOC code 2115, UK wide, only archaeologists)
  • Artists (SOC code 3411, UK wide)
  • Dancers and choreographers (SOC code 3414, UK wide, only skilled classical ballet dancers or skilled contemporary dancers who meet the standard required)
  • Musicians (SOC code 3415, UK wide, only skilled orchestral musicians who are leaders, principals, sub-principals or numbered string positions, and who meet the standard required)
  • Arts officers, producers and directors (SOC code 3416, UK wide)
  • Graphic and multimedia designers (SOC code 2142, UK wide)
  • Welding trades (SOC code 5213, UK wide, only high integrity pipe welders, where the job requires 3 or more years related on-the-job experience)
  • Carpenters and joiners (SOC code 5316, UK wide)

What next?

As the committee points out in the review, the main benefit of inclusion on the list is the salary discount, which is shortly to be abolished. In a letter to the Home Secretary, the committee said that it is not possible for it to carry out a full review of what occupations should be on the immigration salary list without the government first identifying what the remaining benefits to the list are.

The committee has suggested a two stage process for this, where the committee will carry out analysis (with input from stakeholders) and set out their recommendations of what the benefits of the list should be. Once the government agrees that, the full review can be carried out. This proposition does seem to have the potential to delay a further review of the list substantially, but we await the government’s response.

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Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan

Sonia Lenegan is an experienced immigration, asylum and public law solicitor. She has been practising for over ten years and was previously legal director at the Immigration Law Practitioners' Association and legal and policy director at Rainbow Migration. Sonia is the Editor of Free Movement.