Spotlight: UK Migrant job list gets pruned but visas will continue

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The news that the UK will cut a third of available occupations under the list of jobs considered in shortage is causing a lot of concern for employers and skilled foreign workers looking to take employment in Britain.

In fact, with medical and IT professions getting the cut and occupations such as sheep shearers, skilled balet dancers, and frozen fish filleters being added to the list, some cynicism is surfacing in regards to the UK's immigration priorities.

However, a look at the upcoming Tier 2 points based immigration for skilled workers shows that -- while some employers will have to jump through a few more hoops to hire the workers they need -- it is still quite possible to employ foreign skilled workers in occupations that are difficult to fill, regardless of what the panel of experts think is best for Britain.

To successfully apply for a Tier 2 visa, an overseas worker must score 70 points in three criteria: Qualifications, Maintenance, and English language ability.

English language and Maintenance (funds that show foreign workers can finance their switch to life in the UK) each score 10 points, but both of these areas are mandatory requirements. Without satisfying either of these requirements, a prospective foreign worker would be unsuccessful applying under the Tier 2 system -- whether or not the job is on the shortage occupation list.

Under Qualifications, most points are scored for a foreign worker's Certificate of Sponsorship. The Certificate of Sponsorship is issued by an employer who is licensed to hire migrant workers from outside the European Union. Applicants must score at least fifty points under sponsorship, qualifications and prospective earnings.

However, as seen on our Tier 2 visa section, it is still quite easy to score the required 50 points in this area. 30 points can be earned for a Certificate from an employer for a job that is not on the shortage occupation list. In addition, a bachelor's degree will earn an extra 10 points, and earnings of at least GBP 20,000 a year will add another ten -- bringing the total to the 50 required points.

Another issue is the employer's requirement to undertake the so-called Resident Labour Market Test which proves that a British or European Union/Euroepan Economic Area (EU/EEA) citizen could not be found to fill the position.

Generally, this requires posting the job for a certain period of time. For many positions, there is a genuine difficulty in finding skilled work from within the EU/EEA, especially in the case of many medical and IT professions.

While the UK government needs to show a tough stance in regards to its borders in this day and age, a close look at the new scheme shows that it's business as usual. The reality is that Britain needs foreign talent to remain competitive in an increasingly global society.