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Shortage occupations list for Tier 2 gets shorter | Immigration Matters

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As the official shortage occupations shrinks by a further 40,000 jobs, employers are increasingly recruiting European workers, for instance from Bulgaria and Romania, to fill vacancies for jobs not taken by the resident labour force.

The UK Border Agency has announced that ‘a number of specialist jobs that are no longer required in the UK will be removed from the government-approved shortage occupations list’.

The shortage occupation is part of the Tier 2 immigration route via the Points Based System. Highly skilled migrants from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) seeking to work in the UK must apply for visas.

The government has accepted recommendations from the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) that will see the number of jobs covered by the list drop by 40,000, bringing the total down from 230,000 to 190,000. Only a minority of these jobs will be filled by migrant workers.

The MAC recommended the changes where evidence from a range of industries and sectors showed resident workers are available to fill the vacancies.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said:

‘Alongside our limits on overseas workers we are also taking action to provide businesses with the skills they need from the British workforce and reduce their need for migrants.

‘We want the brightest and the best people from outside the EU with the skills we can benefit from in the UK.’

Occupations that the MAC recommended be removed from the list include:

  • secondary education biology teachers;
  • speech and language therapists;
  • pharmacists;
  • orthoptists;
  • veterinary surgeons; and,
  • rank and file orchestral musicians.

Occupations added to the list will be:

  • actuaries;
  • high integrity pipe welders;
  • environmental scientists; and,
  • geochemists

The government has accepted the MAC’s recommended list in full however, rank and file orchestral musicians will not be removed from the list immediately, until further discussions take place with the industry to discuss the resident labour market test.

The revised list will come into effect from 14 November 2011. This means that:

  • For applications covered by the annual limit, the new list will apply to all applications by Tier 2 sponsors for restricted certificates of Sponsorship made on or after 14 November 2011.
  • For applications outside the annual limit, the new list will apply to all unrestricted certificates of sponsorship assigned to migrants on or after 14 November 2011.

Employers can only bring someone into the UK under Tier 2 if the job is on the shortage occupation list or if they pass a resident labour market test (no suitable resident workers apply after advertising the job in the UK first for 4 weeks).

Employers are increasingly turning to EU workers to fill vacancies not on the official shortage or removed from the scope of Tier 2, such as Senior Care Workers for the care industry.

Despite high UK unemployment healthcare support workers or care assistants are still desperately needed by employers who cannot fill vacancies locally.

With millions of British people unemployed and the country’s economy in the doldrums, in theory the care industry should have no problems in finding care or support workers for the 20,000 plus homes. 

That’s the theory, but in practice care home employers are still desperate for staff, especially outside the main cities. 

Changes in to Immigration Rules and Immigration Cap

Recent changes in legislations, including Tier 2, Tier 4 and the cap on immigration, have closed off virtually all routes to recruiting non-EU care workers. For instance: 

  • Senior Care Workers are no longer on the official shortage occupations list.
  • Tier 2 changes restricts work permits to management level jobs
  • Tier 4 student visa changes are squeezing many students out of the job market
  • Tier 4 changes on dependant visas will abolish another source of labour

Care homes find it increasingly difficult to employ Tier 4 students when many are only allowed 10 hours work per week.

And students renewing their visas with private colleges after 4 July 2011 will no longer be allowed to work at all or sponsor their dependants.

Workers from A8 accession countries such as Poland have full ‘free movement of Labour’ rights to work in the UK, however, many care home owners say that they are not that keen on care work either and are looking for higher paid work.

As the newest members of the European Union, Bulgarians and Romanians also have ‘visa-free’ access to enter the UK, however, they do not enjoy the same rights to work as the earlier ‘A8’ Eastern European EU accession countries.

Romanian and Bulgarian citizens who exercise their Treaty Rights (under Article 39) and apply for an accession card as students taking vocational or sandwich courses (e.g. NVQ/QCF in Health and Social Care), are allowed to work full time, as stated on their Yellow Cards.

See also:

Health care workers needed in UK now

Immigration Rules for Bulgarian and Romanian nationals

Free Movement of EU nationals explained

Colleges and Universities discount fees to attract more Tier 4 students

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit

Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians.

For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email

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2 Responses to “Shortage occupations list for Tier 2 gets shorter”
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  1. […] The government has pledged to cut net migration to tens of thousands by 2015 and measures have been introduced to achieve this such as changes to Tier 1 and Tier 2 working visas. […]

  2. […] that it was accepting recommendations from the Independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on changes to the shortage occupation list. Specialist jobs that are no longer required in the UK have been removed from a government-approved […]

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