On 13 May 2020 the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) launched a call for evidence, to inform their report on which jobs should be added to the shortage occupation list ahead of the launch of the UK’s new immigration system from January 2021.
The MAC acknowledges that the COVID-19 crisis makes it difficult for employers to participate but emphasises the importance of their input. Unfortunately they have a deadline to report to the government in September, so if you wish to contribute you must do so by 24 June 2020.
For this particular exercise the MAC is focusing on occupations at RQF level 3-5, as under our new system sponsorship will be possible for these “medium skill” jobs. If a job is deemed to be a shortage occupation, this will help a migrant score more points, which might for example help to offset a slightly lower salary when assessing if they qualify for a visa.
If you would like to share your experiences of trying to fill vacancies at this level, to try and influence which roles are placed on the shortage occupation list, you should do so using an online form which can be found here.
The MAC has suggested that at this time it will not be looking to change which RQF level 6 jobs are on the list.
The Immigration Bill has now completed its journey through Parliament and is awaiting Royal Assent. This is the legislation which revokes EU free movement rights. Although presented by the government as the legislation which allows our new immigration system from January 2021, it does not actually contain any details of the new rules and they are still awaited.
Making it harder for EU nationals to become British
The Home Office has released new guidance that will make it harder for EU nationals to become British.
Under the terms of the EU settlement scheme, EU nationals can obtain settled status by showing they have lived in the UK for five years. There is no requirement to prove that they have been exercising EU Treaty rights. This is a concession from the British government, which goes beyond the requirements of the EU Withdrawal Agreement.
The new nationality guidance confirms that if EU nationals wish to go on and naturalise as British citizens, they will be required to show that they have spent the qualifying period in the UK lawfully. In most cases this means providing evidence that they were exercising EU Treaty rights for the last five years (or three years if married to a British national).
This may be by producing a permanent residence card, issued under the EU rules. Or by providing evidence that they were working, or were a student/self-sufficient with comprehensive sickness insurance. The problem is that in most cases students did not have the required insurance.
The guidance acknowledges that the exercise of Treaty rights may have been historic, so that the individual had acquired permanent residence (even if they never applied for a card) and then stopped exercising those rights. This may be harder to show, as old records will be required.
In practice, it may mean that some EU nationals who have obtained settled status have to wait longer than they expected before they can qualify for naturalisation. This will be a particular concern for German nationals, who have been told they can only have dual German/British nationality if they apply before the end of the transition period in December 2020.
Whilst on the one hand it is understandable that the Government wishes to be sure it only awards British nationality to those who have complied with immigration rules, it is disappointing that they have made a concession for the settled status scheme, which is not then followed through for naturalisation.
This article is from the May 2020 issue of Employment and Immigration Law Update, our monthly newsletter for HR professionals. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. For further information please contact a member of Birketts’ Immigration Team.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at May 2020.