What the UK occupation shortage list means for engineers

Final Version - Social card (22)
Final Version - Social card (22)

With Brexit talks continuing to sew uncertainty within many industries, the shortage of engineers in the UK threatens to deepen. Engineering UK have claimed that there are currently 20,000 fewer people than needed in the industry in the UK.

Damon Culbert from the Immigration Advice Service explains what the occupation shortage list means for the skills gap within the UK manufacturing industry and engineers.

Its latest statistics also indicate that the UK will need over 180,000 each year until 2022. This is good news for non-EEA nationals ready to be made available to the UK’s powerful and expansive engineering industry, or EEA residents wondering how the chance of employment may change after Brexit.

The resident labour market test (RLMT)

Coming to work in the UK from outside the European Economic Area has become more difficult since the suspension of the Tier 3 Unskilled Worker Visa. Migrants must now be able to fill a role with a particular skill before gaining entry to the country.

Tier 2 of the UK five-tier visa system is a common way to enter the UK to work. This visa allows workers to enter the UK to fill roles that cannot be filled by UK nationals. These roles are usually subject to the Resident Labour Market Test. A company must advertise locally for 28 days before this job is available to workers outside the EEA.

The shortage occupation list

For engineers, the Home Office’s Shortage Occupation List makes life a little easier. There are currently over 100 jobs on this list from a number of sectors, and 53 shortage occupations from engineering alone. These include processing jobs such as chemical engineers and manufacturing engineers in the aerospace industry. If a role is on the Shortage Occupation List, it is no longer subject to the Resident Labour Market Test. For non-EEA applicants, these jobs are available immediately and don’t have to be advertised in the UK before becoming available.

Jobs that have been taken off the list are also still able to bypass the RLMT. For production engineers, this includes plant process engineer in the electricity transmission and distribution industry.

Engineering UK’s research indicates that the employment gap in the engineering industry will only continue to expand after Britain leaves the EU. For hopefuls within the EU, the UK industry will continue to welcome talent from across the EEA, and some experts are warning that this will be necessary immediately after Brexit. The Occupation Shortage List means that those migrating to join the engineering industry will face less of a challenge in gaining a visa.

Getting a Tier 2 visa sponsorship

If your profession is in shortage, you can apply for the position with any company which has a Sponsorship Licence to sponsor Tier 2 workers. You will receive a Certificate of Sponsorship once you have been offered the job. Once this is done you can start your visa application.

Your visa application

The Tier 2 General Visa is a points-based application. To gain most of these points you will need the Certificate of Sponsorship provided with a job offer. The rest are gained by passing an English Language Ability test and proving you can fund yourself before your first pay check.

You can apply for a Tier 2 Visa for three years or more. Applying with an offer from a shortage occupation also means that your application fee is reduced. Once your visa is up, you are able to extend it for another five years as long as you’re still working in the same job you applied with the first time.

Applying for a Tier 2 General Visa with a job on the shortage occupation list could lead to qualification for British Citizenship in the future.

Immigration Advice Service www.iasservices.org.uk

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