UK seeks to attract builders with looser immigration rules

Rishi Sunak’s government announced today, 15 March, that it will loosen immigration rules in a bid to attract more foreign construction workers to the UK and address a labor shortage in the industry and to enable them to work on the Skilled Worker Visa basis.

The construction and hospitality sectors account for 6% and 7% of all workforce jobs respectively. Currently, 30% of all jobs in construction are also self-employed. Self-employed workers are not eligible for the Skilled Worker visa route.

Five construction occupations be added to the shortage occupation list sometime before the summer parliamentary recess, which will allow sponsoring companies to pay workers in the roles 20% less than the mandatory minimum salary for sponsorship; £20,960 rather than £26,200. The roles are:

  • Bricklayers and masons
  • Roofers, roof tilers and slaters
  • Carpenters and joiners
  • Plasters and dryliners; and
  • Construction and building trades not elsewhere classified.

But aside from a slightly lower application fee of £479, rather than £625 (or £719 if you are extending your visa from inside the UK), there is little additional benefit. Employers will still be subject to the Immigration Skills Charge (up to £1,000 per year). And there is no exemption from the English language requirement. 

Posted on Mar 15, 2023.

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