Tier 2 of the points-based system of immigration – Skilled Migrants (General) – is the route which enables UK employers to employ nationals from outside the resident workforce to fill a particular job that cannot be filled by a settled worker.
Before issuing a certificate of sponsorship, one of the requirements for employers is to ensure that the vacancy filling process complies with the ‘resident labour market test’. To this end, since 31 March 2009, vacancies under this Tier must first be advertised to settled workers with the government agency Jobcentre Plus and via one other advertising method permitted by the relevant code of practice.
There is an exception to the rule with regard to vacancies for jobs that fall under the Standard Occupational Classification SOC 1112. The UK Border Agency (UKBA) recognises that Jobcentre Plus is not a suitable agency with which to advertise very senior roles, but all other resident labour market test requirements, as set out in the relevant code of practice, must still be met when filling such vacancies.
The Government has announced that from 14 December 2009 the resident labour market test will be extended to four weeks for all jobs. Currently, the requirement is to advertise a post for two weeks, or one week where the salary is £40,000 or more.
The change will apply to advertising campaigns which start on or after 14 December. Employers that have already run advertisements will not need to re-advertise to meet the new requirement.
The four-week period need not run continuously. Where it is envisaged that resident workers will be readily available, the job can initially be advertised for a shorter period. Only if there are no resident workers available to fill the vacancy will it be necessary to advertise for a further period.
In addition, the Government has accepted in full the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee for a revised shortage occupation list for Tier 2 of the points-based system of immigration. The list will apply to all certificates of sponsorship assigned on or after 14 December 2009. Applications based on certificates of sponsorship assigned before this date will be considered against the shortage occupation list in operation at the time.