Demystifying the Immigration Salary List

A Guide for Skilled Migrants to the UK

Last Updated: 1st May, 2024

The Shortage Occupation List has been replaced by the Immigration Salary List (ISL) from 4 April 2024. This change was recommended by the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).

The prospect of immigrating to the UK for work can be exciting, but navigating the visa application process can be daunting. One aspect that often raises questions is the Immigration Salary List (ISL). This page aims to unpack the ISL, explain its purpose, and clarify how it affects your chances of obtaining a Skilled Worker visa.

Table of Contents

What is the Immigration Salary List?

The ISL is a list maintained by the UK government that identifies occupations experiencing labour shortages. Inclusion on the list signifies that the government recognises the need for skilled migrants to fill these gaps. This recognition comes with a benefit: a lower minimum salary threshold for those applying for a Skilled Worker visa in these specific occupations.

How Does the ISL Work?

The standard minimum salary requirement for a Skilled Worker visa is currently £38,100 per year (subject to change). However, if your occupation falls under the ISL, you can qualify for the visa by earning only 80% of this threshold, which translates to roughly £30,480 annually. This reduction can be significant for workers in certain professions, making it easier to meet the financial eligibility criteria.

Finding Your Occupation on the ISL

The UK government provides a searchable list of occupations included in the ISL. You can access this list through the government’s official website. The Codes of Practice for Skills and Occupations (CASCOT) system categorises the list by occupation code. If you’re unsure of your occupation’s code, fret not! The government also provides a handy CASCOT occupation coding tool to help you pinpoint the right code.

Occupation code Job types included on the immigration salary list Areas of the UK which qualify Standard rate Lower rate
1212 Managers and proprietors in forestry, fishing and related services – only “fishing boat masters” Scotland only £30,960 (£15.88 per hour) £27,000 (£13.85 per hour)
2111 Chemical scientists – only jobs in the nuclear industry Scotland only £35,200 (£18.05 per hour) £29,600 (£15.18 per hour)
2112 Biological scientists – all jobs UK wide £41,900 (£21.49 per hour) £32,100 (£16.46 per hour)
2115 Social and humanities scientists – only archaeologists UK wide £36,400 (£18.67 per hour) £25,200 (£12.92 per hour)
2142 Graphic and multimedia designers – all jobs UK wide £30,960 (£15.88 per hour) £35,800 (£18.36 per hour)
3111 Laboratory technicians – only jobs requiring 3 or more years’ related on-the-job experience. This experience must not have been gained through working illegally. UK wide £30,960 (£15.88 per hour) £23,200 (£11.90 per hour)
3212 Pharmaceutical technicians – all jobs UK wide £30,960 (£15.88 per hour) £23,400 (£12.00 per hour)
3411 Artists – all jobs UK wide £32,900 (£16.87 per hour) £27,300 (£14.00 per hour)
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). UK wide £30,960 (£15.88 per hour) £23,200 (£11.90 per hour)
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. UK wide £32,900 (£16.87 per hour) £27,300 (£14.00 per hour)
3416 Arts officers, producers and directors – all jobs UK wide £37,500 (£19.23 per hour) £31,300 (£16.05 per hour)
5119 Agriculture and fishing trades not elsewhere classified – only jobs in the fishing industry UK wide £30,960 (£15.88 per hour) £23,200 (£11.90 per hour)
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 working illegally. UK wide £31,700 (£16.26 per hour) £26,400 (£13.54 per hour)
5235 Boat and shop builders and repairers – all jobs Scotland only £32,400 (£16.62 per hour) £28,100 (£14.41 per hour)
5312 Stonemasons and related trades – all jobs UK wide £31,000 (£15.90 per hour) £25,800 (£13.23 per hour)
5313 Bricklayers – all jobs UK wide £30,960 (£15.88 per hour) £25,800 (£13.23 per hour)
5314 Roofers, roof tilers and slaters – all jobs UK wide £31,000 (£15.90 per hour) £25,800 (£13.23 per hour)
5316 Carpenters and joiners – all jobs UK wide £30,960 (£15.88 per hour) £25,200 (£12.92 per hour)
5319 Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified – only retrofitters UK wide £30,960 (£15.88 per hour) £25,500 (£13.08 per hour)
6135 Care workers and home carers – all jobs, except jobs with a working location in England are only eligible in this SOC 2020 occupation code where the sponsor holds registration with the Care Quality Commission and is currently carrying on a regulated activity. Private households or individuals (other than sole traders sponsoring someone to work for their business) cannot sponsor Skilled Worker applicants. UK wide £30,960 (£15.88 per hour) £23,200 (£11.90 per hour)
6136 Senior care workers – all jobs, except jobs with a working location in England are only eligible in this SOC 2020 occupation code where the sponsor holds registration with the Care Quality Commission and is currently carrying on a regulated activity. UK wide £30,960 (£15.88 per hour) £23,200 (£11.90 per hour)
6129 Animal care services occupations not elsewhere classified – only racing grooms, stallion handlers, stud grooms, stud hands, stud handlers and work riders UK wide £30,960 (£15.88 per hour) £23,200 (£11.90 per hour)
9119 Fishing and other elementary agriculture occupations not elsewhere classified – only deckhands on large fishing vessels (9 metres and above) where the job requires the worker to have at least 3 years’ full-time experience in using their skills. This experience must not have been gained through working illegally. UK wide £30,960 (£15.88 per hour) £23,200 (£11.90 per hour)
optimising your CV as you are working in the UK

Important Considerations

While the ISL offers a welcome salary concession, it’s crucial to understand some key points:

  • Not a Guarantee: Being on the ISL doesn’t automatically guarantee a visa. You’ll still need to meet all other eligibility requirements for the Skilled Worker visa, including having a sponsor (usually your employer) and possessing the necessary qualifications and experience.
  • Salary Relevance: The minimum salary is just a baseline. The actual prevailing salary in your field might be higher. Employers are expected to offer salaries commensurate with the position’s going rate, even if it’s above the ISL minimum.
  • Pro-rated Salaries: The ISL salaries are based on a standard 37.5-hour workweek. If your job involves different working hours, the minimum salary needs to be adjusted proportionally.

Benefits of the ISL

The ISL offers several advantages for skilled migrants seeking work in the UK:

  • Increased Job Opportunities: By lowering the salary threshold, the ISL opens doors for a wider range of skilled workers to qualify for visas, potentially expanding job options for migrants.
  • Filling Labour Shortages: Businesses struggling to find qualified local candidates can more easily recruit talented individuals from abroad, addressing skill gaps and boosting economic growth.
  • Global Talent Pool: The ISL fosters a more diverse workforce, allowing the UK to tap into a rich pool of international talent and expertise.

Criticisms of the ISL

Despite its benefits, the ISL has also attracted some criticism:

  • Potential for Exploitation: Critics argue that lower salary thresholds could lead to employers underpaying skilled migrants, potentially creating a two-tiered labour market.
  • Focus on Specific Occupations: The ISL might favour certain sectors over others, potentially neglecting broader labour market needs.
  • Regular Review Needed: The list requires regular review to ensure it reflects evolving skill shortages and economic realities.

The Future of the ISL

The UK government is conducting a review of the ISL to assess its effectiveness and identify potential areas for improvement. The outcome of this review could lead to modifications in the list or its implementation.

Additional Considerations for Using the ISL

Beyond the core points mentioned earlier, here are some additional factors to keep in mind when considering the ISL:

  • Location: Salary expectations can vary depending on where you’ll be working in the UK. London and the Southeast typically have higher living costs and, thus, higher prevailing salaries compared to other regions. The ISL minimum might be a more significant benefit for roles outside major cities.
  • Negotiation Power: While the ISL offers a lower minimum, it doesn’t restrict you from negotiating a higher salary. If your skills and experience are in high demand, you might be able to secure a salary closer to the prevailing rate, even if your occupation falls under the ISL.
  • Future Career Progression: While the ISL can help you secure your initial visa, remember that the minimum salary requirement might increase as you progress in your career. Consider the long-term earning potential within your chosen field to ensure financial sustainability in the UK.

Resources for Skilled Migrants

Here are some valuable resources to help you navigate the UK’s skilled worker immigration system:

  • UK Visas and Immigration: – This is the official website of the UK government, providing comprehensive information on all visa categories, including the Skilled Worker visa.
  • Working in the UK Resources: This comprehensive guide will be your reliable torch, illuminating your path and guiding you through every step in three simple steps. It includes bonus tips to help you avoid the common pitfalls along the way and make your journey smoother. 
  • Skilled Worker visa:– This dedicated page offers a detailed breakdown of the Skilled Worker visa requirements, eligibility criteria, and application process.
  • Immigration Advice for Professionals:– This section provides guidance and resources for professionals seeking to work in the UK, including information on relevant qualifications and professional bodies.
  • Sector Skills Councils: The UK has various sector skills councils representing specific industries. These councils often provide resources and information on job opportunities, skills gaps, and salary trends within their respective sectors. A list of sector skills councils can be found on the UK government website.

Conclusion

The Immigration Salary List can be a valuable tool for skilled migrants seeking to work in the UK. By understanding its purpose, limitations, and how it interacts with the broader immigration system, you can make informed decisions and increase your chances of obtaining a visa and building a successful career in the UK. Remember, thorough research, utilising available resources, and professional guidance can significantly enhance your experience as a skilled migrant navigating the UK’s immigration process.

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