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UK Migration Advisory Committee reports on new Immigration Salary List

29 February 2024

Only 21 occupations are recommended for inclusion on the new Immigration Salary List (ISL), which will replace the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) for the Skilled Worker route from 4 April 2024. Employers may find that this, combined with the increased minimum salary thresholds will significantly reduce the size of the eligible talent pool for sponsorship of overseas workers.

The recommendations are made following the Home Office’s request for a ‘rapid review’ and on the basis that a full review will be commissioned later in the year. The MAC’s report on the rapid review of the ISL is available here. This will be considered by the Home Office ahead of Immigration Rules being published on 14 March and coming into effect on 4 April.

Employers experiencing skills shortages should consider submitting evidence to the full ISL review later in the year once the scope of the review has been confirmed.

Which roles are included on the proposed ISL?

The MAC recommend 21 occupations for inclusion on the ISL. This represents 8% of job roles eligible for the Skilled Worker route by employment, in comparison with 30% of job roles that are currently covered under the SOL.

The recommended occupations are listed below. Of the 21 occupations, 18 are recommendations for the UK-wide ISL and 3 recommendations for the Scotland-only ISL.

Current code and new code New description  Salary threshold if on ISL  UK wide or devolved nation only 
1213 1212  Managers and proprietors in forestry, fishing and related services – add only “fishing boat masters” £30,960 Scotland only


 Laboratory technicians – all non-Health and Care Worker eligible jobs (requires 3 years or more experience) £30,960 UK-wide
3217  212 Pharmaceutical technicians – all non- Health and Care Worker eligible jobs £30,960 UK-wide
5236 5235 Boat and ship builders and repairers - all jobs £34,100 Scotland only
5312 5312 Stonemasons and related trades - all jobs £32,400 UK-wide
5312 5313 Bricklayers - all jobs £30,960 UK-wide
5313 5314 Roofers, roof tilers and slaters – all jobs £30,960 UK-wide
5319 5319  Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified – add only "retrofitters" £30,960 UK-wide
6139  6129  Animal care services occupations not elsewhere classified - add only “racing grooms”, “stallion handlers”, “stud grooms”, “stud hands”, “stud handlers” and “work
£30,960 UK-wide
2111 2111 Chemical scientists – only jobs in the nuclear industry £35,200 Scotland only
2112 2112 Biological scientists - all non- Health and Care worker eligible jobs £37,100 UK-wide
2114 2115  Social and humanities scientists – only archaeologists £36,400 UK-wide
3411 3411 Artists – all jobs £32,800 UK-wide
3414 3414  Dancers and choreographers – only skilled classical ballet dancers or skilled contemporary dancers who meet the standard required by internationally recognised UK ballet or contemporary dance companies. The company must be endorsed as being internationally recognised by a UK industry body such as the Arts Councils (of England, Scotland or Wales). £31,200 UK-wide
3415 3415 Musicians – only skilled orchestral musicians who are leaders, principals, sub-principals or numbered string positions, and who meet the standard required by internationally recognised UK orchestras. The orchestra must be a full member of the Association of British Orchestras. £35,300 UK-wide
3416  3416 Arts officers, producers and directors – all jobs £37,500 UK-wide
3421 2142 Graphic and multimedia designers - all jobs £30,960 UK-wide
5215 5213 Welding trades – only high integrity pipe welders, where the job requires 3 or more years related on-the-job experience. This experience must not have been gained through illegal working. £31,700 UK-wide
5315 5316 Carpenters and joiners – all jobs £30,960 UK-wide
6145 6135 Care workers and home carers
- private households or individuals (other than sole traders sponsoring someone to work for their business) cannot sponsor Skilled Worker applicants in Health and Care Worker eligible jobs
£23,200 UK-wide
6146 6136 Senior care workers – all H&CW eligible jobs £23,200 UK-wide

Why is the ISL so much shorter than the SOL?

The list is shorter because it takes into account the higher Skilled Worker salary threshold requirements coming into force on 4 April 2024 and the removal of the 20% discount applied to job roles on the SOL.

The ISL as recommended by the MAC excludes:

  • Occupation codes where the going rate of salary (referred to in the report as the ‘occupation-specific threshold’) exceeds the general salary threshold;
  • Occupations in education and healthcare that are subject to national pay scales; and
  • Occupation codes that the MAC has previously highlighted as posing a risk of work exploitation.

For more about information about the MAC review of the SOL and the rapid review of the ISL, read our previous articles Migration Advisory Committee recommends sweeping changes to Shortage Occupation List and UK Migration Advisory Committee to advise on new Immigration Salary List.

How might the ISL be useful to employers?

The main benefit to employers sponsoring a worker in a role on the new ISL is a lower general salary threshold. For more information on the anticipated salary requirement changes to the Skilled Worker route, see our article ‘Reminder to make UK work visa applications ahead of salary hikes’.

In what appears to be a new detail, the MAC confirms the anticipated reduced general salary thresholds are as follows:

  • For Skilled Worker occupations excluding health and care sector occupations: £30,960 instead of £38,700; and
  • For occupations including health and education sector occupations that are not on a national pay scale: £23,200 instead of £29,000.
Summary of the general salary thresholds for Skilled Worker applications made on or after 4 April 2024 (where transitional arrangements do not apply)
  Skilled Worker occupations excluding health and care occupations Health and care occupations not on a national pay scale  National Pay Scale occupations 
General threshold for roles not on the ISL £38,700 (currently £26,200) £29,000 (currently £26,200) £23,200 (currently £20,960)
General threshold for roles on the ISL £30,960 (currently £20,960) £23,200 (currently £20,960) £23,200 (currently £20,960) 
Occupation-specific threshold 50th percentile (currently 25th percentile) 25th percentile (no change) National pay scale figure as stated in the Immigration Rules 

What concerns has the MAC flagged in the rapid review?

Two concerns have been identified for the Government to consider further.

Previous recommendation to remove the 20% going rate discount for shortage occupations

In its October 2023 review of the SOL, the MAC recommended to remove the 20% going rate discount for shortage occupations, on the basis that its use could lead to undercutting the salaries of the domestic workforce and to the exploitation of sponsored workers.

The MAC observes that the potential benefit (or damage) of removing the 20% going rate discount must be reassessed in the context of the salary uplifts planned in the April 2024 changes, including that:

  • Many occupations, particularly at levels 3 to 5 on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (medium-skilled roles) have salary ranges that are, in most cases, too low to qualify for sponsorship, even if included on the ISL; and
  • Having a 20% going rate discount may not lead to undercutting or worker exploitation where the going rate to qualify is the median for the occupation rather than the lowest quartile.

Need to reconsider the new entrant points option

The new entrant points option currently allows a 30% discount to the going rate threshold and a 20% discount to the general salary threshold. The higher amount of these two figures must be paid. These discounts recognise the economic reality that people at the start of their career usually earn less than when they have more experience.

The Government has confirmed the new entrant points option will remain in place, however no further details have yet been made available about how it will be structured. The MAC has flagged that the magnitude of the April 2024 salary uplifts means that use of this points option will become more attractive, and for some occupations, the only way to recruit under the Skilled Worker route. The MAC has therefore encouraged the Government to consider the impact of the Rule changes on the use of the new entrant discounts.

For further information on other aspects of the new entrant points option that should be considered, see our earlier article here.

Use of the ISL outside the Skilled Worker route

The MAC has repeated their previous recommendations as follows:

  • That asylum seekers who are granted the right to work should be allowed to do so in any occupation, rather than only occupations on what will become the ISL; and
  • That references to the SOL and resident labour market testing should be removed from the Creative Worker route; and
  • That a general salary threshold should be introduced to the Creative Worker route.

Although not mentioned in the MAC’s report, the Government should also consider whether workers who are allowed to carry out supplementary employment may do so if the role is different from their sponsored role but included on the ISL.

What might the MAC cover in the full ISL review?

The MAC was asked to perform a rapid review of the ISL focusing only on those occupations currently on the SOL and those which were recommended for inclusion in their October 2023 SOL review. This was to enable the Home Office to introduce the ISL in time for the April 2024 Immigration Rule updates, with a full review to be commissioned separately.

In the rapid review report, the MAC has asked the government to take a two-stage approach on the full ISL review as follows:

  • Recommendations on what the benefits of the ISL should be; and
  • A major review of the ISL with full stakeholder engagement, including a Call for Evidence, stakeholder roundtables, and a renewed assessment of labour market conditions and quantitative data against the new salary thresholds.

What happens next?

The Home Office will consider the MAC’s recommendations and will either respond to the report or include their conclusions the new Immigration Rules due to be published on 14 March 2024. For more information about the timeline for immigration reforms, see our previous article.

Although no date has yet been confirmed, it is anticipated that the MAC will carry out a full ISL review in mid-to-late 2024.

Employers should stay on top of developments and consider participating in stakeholder engagement initiatives as part of the full ISL review, including responding to the MAC’s Call for Evidence once published.

If you have queries or would like to learn more about how you can contribute to the MAC’s upcoming stakeholder engagement, please contact a member of our Immigration Team.

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