Government publishes changes to the UK Immigration Rules

The government has published a new Statement of Changes (called HC 2631) to the UK Immigration Rules. The main change from an employers’ perspective is the expansion of the shortage occupation list (SOL) under Tier 2 (General) of the points-based immigration system from 6 October 2019. As inclusion on the SOL means there is no need for the employer to pass the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) and as this expansion means the SOL will then cover around 9% of jobs in the UK labour market, compared to 1% under the current list, the result is that significantly fewer roles will be subject to the RLMT. New inclusions on the SOL include biological scientists, biochemists, web designers and architects. Some other occupations have also been expanded to include all jobs within the standard occupational classification (SOC) code.

Other changes to Tier 2 (General) from 6 October 2019 include:

  • Exempting Ph.D. level occupations from the annual 20,700 restricted Certificates of Sponsorship limit, thus further reducing the risk that requests for restricted Certificates of Sponsorship will be oversubscribed in future
  • Modifying some SOC salary rates.

Changes applying from 1 October 2019 include:

  • Allowing Tier 2 employees sponsored in Ph.D. level occupations to undertake research outside the UK without this affecting their eligibility for settlement, provided that the research relates to their UK sponsored employment and is authorised by their sponsor 
  • Various technical amendments to the EU Settlement Scheme rules, particularly for the family members of UK nationals returning from an EEA country or Switzerland.

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