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03 March 2024

Expat immigration alert: Engineers needed in the UK...

By Majorie van Leijen

While the first UAE nationals are enjoying their right to a visa on arrival when visiting the UK, a debate in the same country is taking place, if enough is being done to attract engineers.

More than a year ago a report of the Royal Academy of Engineering caused great concern, when it stated that a 100,000 new engineering graduates would be needed annually in the period up to 2020.

By the year 2020, 830,000 graduate-level engineering experts and 450,000 technicians would be needed in a country with a quickly aging and depleting engineering sector.

Experts did not leave it at that, arguing that an increased dependence on labour force overseas was inevitable, and not enough was being done to encourage foreign engineers from settling in the UK.

This is good news for engineers in the UAE, but with the ambition to move further.

However, it raises the question how difficult it is exactly to make the move.

Tier 2

Engineers with the ambition to migrate to the UK are most likely to apply through the Tier 2 programme, a sponsorship programme allowing overseas workers to work for a UK employer when having a job offer at hand.

"For the year from 6 April, 2014 – 5 April, 2015, the Home Office will be granting 20,700 restricted certificates of sponsorship available to Tier 2 General sponsors.

“This is inclusive of job roles on the shortage occupation list, which includes a great number of engineering job categories.

“In fact, half of the 119 jobs listed on the UK Border Agency’s Tier 2 Shortage Occupation List are engineering jobs, said Newland Chase, the UK-based global immigration consultancy firm.

Tier 1

The second logical option –the Tier 1 Post Study Work Visa category- has been closed since 2012.

In reality, this means that the only option there is for those students who have graduated from a UK institution, is to find a job directly after graduation by switching to the Tier 2 programme after their study.

The same immigration consultant explains: The problem that many graduates face is that they are not permitted (as they were before) to stay in the UK under the Tier 1 Post Study Work category, in order to look for a job.

This means that an engineering graduate without a job offer straight after concluding their studies must exit the UK.

Once outside of the UK they are then subject to restrictions in coming back to the UK to work such as their UK employer having to apply for a Restricted certificate of sponsorship under the cap or having to meet the requirements of the Resident Labour Market Test (RLMT) if the role is not a shortage occupation one.

True, this might seem like a bit of a hassle, but it does not prevent engineers from settling in the country, Newland Chase argues. " It just unfortunately adds extra lead-in time to the process.

"In reality the annual cap of 20,700 on Tier 2 General Restricted Certificates of Sponsorship has never actually been reached," they write.

Skilled workers can apply through the Tier 2 programme to fill a vacancy that cannot be filled by a resident worker, or as an Intra Company Transfer (ICT), when the vacancy cannot be filled by a resident worker.

The job must be on the Shortage Occupation List revised in 2013, which implies the job is rated with a minimum skill level of 6 and meets the minimum salary threshold.

Click here for a detailed list on the available job categories for immigration through the Tier 2 programme