The Home Office has just released its latest ‘Statement of Intent’ on immigration. There are two bits of good news for science and engineering.
The first is that the Government will be keeping the overall limit on work-related non-EU immigration static at 20,700 per year. There had been some concern that it would be reduced, given the relatively low levels of visas actually taken up last year.
By keeping it the same, the Government means there is some slack in the system for the UK to bring in more talented workers as we recover from the recession. Thanks to campaigning by CaSE and others, if the limit is reached then scientists and engineers will still be prioritised in the visa queue.
The second is that the Government is loosening the restrictions around the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT). The RLMT means that employers have to prove that there are no appropriately qualified candidates in the ‘resident labour market’ before they can employ someone from outside the EU. In practice this has meant scientific institutions having to advertise for extremely specialist posts in their local JobCentre Plus before they’re able to get the candidate they actually need.
Today’s announcement says:
“From 14 June 2012 there will be some relaxations in the operation of the Resident Labour Market Test:-
– those jobs paid more than £70k, and specified PhD level occupations, will have to be advertised but not in Jobcentre Plus.
– Sponsors may select the best candidate, regardless of whether they are a resident worker, for vacancies in ‘PhD-level’ occupations. This is a change from the current Resident Labour Market Test requirement where a suitably skilled settled worker must be selected.
– For PhD-level jobs only, the period for which the Resident Labour Market Test is deemed to have been satisfied (other than under the milkround provisions) will be extended from 6 months to 12 months.”
… with ‘PhD-level occupations’ being defined as:
1137 – Research and Development Managers
2111 – Chemists
2112 – Biological Scientists and BioChemists
2113 – Physicists, Geologists and Meteoroligists
2311 – Higher Education Teaching Professionals
2321 – Scientific Researchers
2322 – Social Science Researchers
2329 – Researchers not elsewhere classified
Further to that, anyone on the ‘Shortage Occupations List‘ gets to skip this particular bit of red-tape too – engineers feature heavily there.
Many of these changes wouldn’t have happened without consistent dialogue between the Home Office and organisations like CaSE. We’ve worked closely with our members, including everyone from the Wellcome Trust and IChemE, to ensure the Government is aware of our concerns. We’re continuing this dialogue, so if you know of any outstanding roadblocks or problems with current regulations, do let us know.