On 4 April 2024, the UK Home Office renamed the Shortage Occupation List to the Immigration Salary List. It has also restructured some aspects of the ISL. Here's what employers need to keep in mind going forward.


The UK Shortage Occupation List is a list of jobs for which there are not enough workers in the UK to meet demand. Jobs on this list are eligible for easier visa application processes, which may include reduced fees and minimum required salary thresholds. The list is updated periodically based on advice from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), which assesses occupations that are currently in shortage.

In December 2023, the UK government announced the renaming of the Shortage Occupation List to the Immigration Salary List (ISL) and initiated a restructure of the system. Following this update, the Home Office tasked the MAC with a rapid review of the ISL's new framework.

Effective from 6 April 2024, several significant modifications were adopted based on the MAC's recommendations:

  • The previous 20% "going rate" salary discount was discontinued.
  • The minimum salary threshold for the Skilled Worker visa was increased from £26,200 to £38,700.
  • For occupations listed on the ISL, the salary threshold was raised from £20,960 to £30,960, or the occupation-specific threshold, if higher.

The MAC advised that only 21 occupations, constituting 8% of job roles, be eligible under the Skilled Worker route – a substantial reduction from the prior 20% available on the SOL. These 21 occupations include 18 for the UK-wide ISL and three specific to Scotland.

Occupations recommended for the ISL list during the 2023 review include:

OccupationSOC codeLocation
Managers and proprietors in forestry and fishing services, specifically "fishing boat masters"1212Scotland
Laboratory technicians (at least three years of experience)3111UK-wide
Pharmaceutical technicians3212UK-wide
Boat and ship builders and repairers5235Scotland
Stonemasons and related trades5312UK-wide
Roofers, roof tilers and slaters5314UK-wide
Construction and building trades specified as "retrofitters"5319UK-wide
Animal care services occupations including various specialised roles6129UK-wide
Care workers and home carers6135UK-wide
Senior care workers6136UK-wide

Additionally, the following occupations have now been recommended for the ISL due to the increased salary thresholds:

OccupationSOC codeLocation
Chemical scientists in the nuclear industry2111UK-wide
Biological scientists2112UK-wide
Social and humanities scientists, specifically archaeologists2115UK-wide
Dancers and choreographers with skills in classical ballet or contemporary dance meeting international standards3414UK-wide
Musicians holding leading positions in internationally recognised UK orchestras3415UK-wide
Arts officers, producers and directors3416UK-wide
Graphic and multimedia designers2142UK-wide
High integrity pipe welders with three or more years of experience5213UK-wide
Carpenters and joiners5316UK-wide

It is crucial for employers to note that from 4 April 2024, the SOC 2020 coding system is in effect, replacing the previously used SOC 2010 system, thereby requiring any new Certificates of Sponsorship to use this updated coding.

Widening pay gaps in the Health and Care sectors

Salaries in the private sector are rising, but public sector jobs often don't have the same increases applied, because the government exempts themselves. This growing difference in pay can lead to exploitation, especially in low-paying jobs like caregiving.

Also, the rules for obtaining a Health and Care Worker visa are mostly for jobs connected to the NHS or adult social care. Consequently, the salary requirements for these positions may vary, adding complexity to the immigration regulations.

All these changes aim to transform skilled labour migration into the UK. Employers need to stay updated and adapt quickly to this new system if they want to continue attracting the skilled talent required to fill critical roles.

We help individuals and businesses navigate all aspects of UK immigration and can assist with ongoing employee immigration management. Contact us at +44 (0) 20 7759 5307 or email workpermits@sableinternational.com.

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