From the 1 January 2021 the Home Office will introduce a new Points-Based System – replacing the current system – which will seek to standardise the application routes and processes for both EEA and non-EEA nationals applying to enter the UK for the purpose of work.
Fundamental to the new system will be a broadening of the ‘skill’ level required for sponsorship under a new Skilled Worker route replacing the current Tier 2 (General) scheme. The minimum ‘skill’ level under the current Tier 2 system is RQF 6+, i.e. applicants can be sponsored into roles at a ‘skill’ level of Bachelor’s Degrees and above. The new system will widen the scheme to include roles at RQF3+, i.e. at A-Level or above.
The Migration Advisory Committee (“MAC”) has released a report outlining its recommendations for a new Shortage Occupation List (“SOL”) to accompany the new immigration system. Under the Skilled Worker route, the main effect of a job being on the SOL will be to lower the salary threshold by 20 per cent to a lower bound of £20,480 (except for some, largely public sector occupations that follow pay scales). The MAC also advises that no roles should be removed from the SOL for the new system. Amongst various minor additions, the MAC advises inclusion of the following codes, applicable across the UK:
- SOC 1181 – health services and public health managers and directors
- SOC 2213 – pharmacists
- SOC 2221 – physiotherapists
Of the 151 RQF Level 3 – 5 roles considered, 20 are recommended for inclusion UK-wide. Some variation will continue to exist between the devolved regions. Recommendations include roles in sectors such as construction, healthcare, manufacturing and the arts.
The new SOL would cover approximately 14 per cent of total UK employment, or 21 percent of eligible RQF3+ employment. Arguably therefore, if adopted it would constitute a significant liberalisation of the legal framework for UK immigration, albeit a necessary reform given the reduced size of the resident labour pool following the UK’s departure from the EU single market.
The Home Office will present any changes to the SOL in due course for inclusion in the rollout of the new immigration system by 1 January 2020.
Should you have any questions relating to the new, proposed SOL and how it impacts you or your business, please contact your usual Magrath Sheldrick LLP contact.