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Migration Advisory Committee Recommends Review of Shortage Occupation List

Published 12 April 2024

Current immigration rules allow asylum seekers to request the right to work after a 12-month pending asylum application period.

If granted, they are restricted to occupations listed on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL). However, many asylum seekers possess skills and qualifications not on this list, preventing them from utilising them until their asylum claim is approved, granting full work rights in the UK.

In their recent 2023 review of the Shortage Occupation List, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) questions the rationale of limiting work to SOL roles. MAC asserts that the SOL was never intended to determine suitable jobs for asylum seekers. For further insights, you can refer to MAC’s recent review of the Shortage Occupation List.

MAC recommends a significant change: asylum seekers granted the right to work should be able to pursue any job.

Alternatively, if the government doesn’t adopt this recommendation, MAC proposes allowing asylum seekers with work rights to engage in jobs eligible under the Skilled Worker Visa route. The Appendix Skilled Occupations contains a broader range of eligible jobs compared to the Shortage Occupation List.

In summary, MAC’s bold recommendation suggests granting asylum seekers the freedom to work in any occupation, or at least in jobs eligible for the Skilled Worker visa. The UK government’s response remains to be seen.

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