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 The Shortage Occupation List – What is it and how can you use it to your advantage as a potential Tier 2 migrant (job seeker)

Many industries require specialist skills which are not readily available. With this in mind, the Home Office created the Shortage Occupation List - a list of occupations that due to their highly skilled nature, are exempt from the Resident Labour Market Test that usually applies to jobs that are going to be given to a Tier 2 General Visa holder. This list gives a variety of Standard Occupation Codes (SOCs) that can be used as a route to an exemption.

In this article, we are going to look at the advantages for both Tier 2 migrants and employers that come from using the Shortage Occupation List. We will also look at some of the key areas that the list covers.

What Are The Advantages For Tier 2 General Visa Migrants With Regards To The Shortage Occupation List?

There are several advantages for those applying for a job that is on the Shortage Occupation List. One of the biggest is no longer needing to meet the requirement for a minimum salary of £30,000 for many jobs. This salary requirement often only applies to experienced workers in many of the occupations listed (check the list for more information or call us and we can advise you). This means that for those who are just getting started in an industry such as engineering, they can begin to work in the UK and begin to gain industry experience that will allow them to progress in the field.

The other major advantage is that even if you are experienced in your field, you can skip the queues as your prospective employer will not have to apply the Resident Labour Market Test to your specialised role. Because of this, they can offer the role directly to you and will not need to advertise it to EEA citizens - as per the normal procedure for any other role that is going to be offered to a Tier 2 General Visa applicant.

What Are The Advantages For Employers With Regards To The Shortage Occupation List?

The advantages for employers of the Shortage Occupation List are in-line with those of Tier 2 General Visa applicants. Essentially, you can bring in the exact staff member that you need without jumping through the hoops of the Resident Labour Market Test. You can also avoid paying unrealistic salaries for inexperienced staff in order to get the skills that you need. The normal minimum salary requirement of £30,000 is lowered for inexperienced staff in many of the Shortage Occupation List roles (check the list for the values), and this can be used to bring in the staff that you need, for an appropriate salary.

Of course, this does not mean that you can underpay people - the rate you offer will still need to meet the minimum laid out in the Shortage Occupation List. This will ensure that staff are not underpaid. You will still need to meet the remainder of the criteria which applies to Tier 2 Sponsor Licence holders (such as accurate record keeping), but using the Shortage Occupation List allows you to get the right staff that you need easily and quickly. Being able to skip the Resident Labour Market Test is a great way to speed up the hiring process for industries that have a requirement for highly skilled staff.

The Shortage Occupation List

The list below encompasses many of the areas that are currently on the Shortage Occupation List. If you wish to find out more about these roles (for instance their salary thresholds), please get in touch and our team will be happy to provide this information for you.

Art & Design

There are many roles in the film & TV industry that qualify under the Shortage Occupation List due to the technical skills that are required to fulfill the roles. These roles include graphic designers, production managers and animators.

Dance & Music

There are a number of roles in the dance and music industry that are on the Shortage Occupation List due to the high level of skill required. These roles include:

  • Skilled ballet dancers
  • Skilled contemporary dancers
  • Skilled orchestral musicians

For all of these roles, you will need to meet a minimum standard as laid out in the guidance released by the Home Office.

Engineering & Science

Engineers are highly prized in many specialised industries such as the following:

  • Oil & gas industry
  • Nuclear industry
  • Aviation
  • Railways
  • Chemicals

There is also a specific need for many designers and development engineers in the engineering industry.


Chefs who are highly skilled can come to the UK via the Shortage Occupation List. They will need to earn at least £29,570 after certain deductions. There are also exemptions to the type of restaurant that the chef can work in.


The IT industry has a vast array of specialisations that are required. Below is a list of just a few jobs that are on the Shortage Occupation List:

  • Cyber security specialists
  • Software developers (certain industries)
  • IT product managers


Many industries have a shortage of skilled managers. The following sectors have a distinct shortage:

  • Nuclear waste and decommissioning
  • IT product management
  • Nursing

Due to the soft skills that are often involved in management, there are not that many management roles on the Shortage Occupation List. The roles listed generally require a level of technical competence rather than management skill.

Medical & Education

Due to shortages in both industries, there is a large scope for employment in one of these sectors. For instance nurses and paramedics are on the list with no restrictions whatsoever. There are many other medical specialties on the list, and due to their highly skilled nature, these offer an excellent path to a Tier 2 General Visa.

As far as education is concerned, only secondary education teachers in the following specialities are on the list:

  • Maths
  • Physics
  • Science (where an element of physics will be taught)
  • Computer science
  • Mandarin

Where To Get More Help

If you need help with the Shortage Occupation List or you have any other immigration query, please get in touch and our team will be happy to help you. We can help prospective applicants and employers to use this list to maximise their possibilities.

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