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UK Eases Visa Rules For Building, Fishing Industries

  1. Immigration Blog
  2. UK Eases Visa Rules For Building, Fishing Industries

Labour shortages worsened after Brexit and Covid

If you are in the building trade or the fishing industry, it will now be easier for you to work in the United Kingdom.

The government just added builders, carpenters and those working in the fishing industry to its Shortage Occupation List, making it easier for them to obtain visas.

Roofers and plasterers have also been added to the list, which temporarily eases visa restrictions in industries where employers face challenges in filling vacancies, a report said citing the U.K. Home Office.

The government says it has little choice but to fill short-term skill shortages in some industries even as it works on a plan to train its domestic workforce.

Members on the Migration Advisory Committee recommended five jobs for inclusion on the list:

  • Bricklayers and masons
  • Roofers, roof tilers and slaters
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Variety of other workers in the construction and building trades
  • Plasterers

The Home Office also added jobs in the fishing trade to the list, alongside connected "elementary agriculture occupations."

People on the shortage occupation list can apply for a skilled worker visa to work in the UK. They will be charged lower visa fees and can be paid 80% of the job's usual rate and still qualify for a visa. Currently, in most cases foreign nationals must earn at least £26,200 to qualify for a skilled worker visa, although this can decline to £20,960 if they are taking up a job on a shortage list. Applicants will still need a job offer from an employer and meet English Language requirements.

The shortage list is reviewed every six months.

Canfields Law provides immigration advice and also has good connections with several real-estate and construction companies. Building companies have faced manpower shortages and reached out to Canfields Law to help.

Net migration in the U.K. climbed 24 percent in 2022 to a record 606,000, according to figures released in May. That piled pressure on the government, which has pledged to cut dependency on foreign labour. Home Secretary Suella Braverman in May called for UK businesses to train British nationals in industries facing labour shortages to help reduce immigration.

Job vacancies have risen sharply in both the hospitality and construction industries, MAC’s review of the two industries published in March found. Comparing the three-month period November-January 2023 with the immediate pre-pandemic period January-March 2020, vacancies were 72% higher in hospitality and 65% higher in construction. This compares to an increase of 42% in the overall economy. Vacancies have, however, been declining since the middle of 2022, with vacancies overall now 13% lower than the peak.

Adding construction workers to the shortage list would not make a significant difference to overall migration, MAC said.

The construction sector accounts for 6% of all workforce jobs, according to MAC’s review. It said it considered the strategic importance of construction to the U.K. economy and how its workforce was likely to change in the next decade, with demand likely to increase markedly.

U.K.’s construction industry has long battled worker shortages, but Brexit has worsened the gaps as EU citizens can no longer come to work in the U.K. without visas as before. Many EU workers returned to their home countries during the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you have a question or would like our team's assistance with any immigration matters please get in touch through our contact form or by phone. We will be happy to provide the latest information and expert advice relevant to your specific requirements.

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