Skilled Worker SOC Codes

When hiring a migrant worker on a Skilled Worker visa, the sponsoring employer is required to match the job with its corresponding Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code from the list of eligible occupations.

The SOC code is used to show the Home Office that the migrant worker’s role meets the prescribed skill and salary thresholds in order to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa.

It is important that the correct SOC code is included on the Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS), or the application may be delayed or rejected. It is the sponsor’s responsibility to ensure that the most appropriate SOC code is selected for the role in question.

What is a SOC code?

A Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) code is a four-digit number which classifies occupations into broad job types and related job titles. The codes are taken from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) system used to classify all types of paid jobs in the UK economy.

Each eligible occupation under the Skilled Worker route has its own corresponding SOC code. These codes are also used to determine the ‘going rate’ for each occupation. Some example SOC codes and their corresponding occupations include:

  • 2211 – Medical practitioners (Related job titles include: Doctor, General Practitioner, Paediatrician, Psychiatrist, Radiologist, Surgeon).
  • 2219 – Health professionals not elsewhere classified (Related job titles include: Audiologist, Dental Hygiene Therapist, Family Planner, Occupational Health Adviser).
  • 2412 – Barristers and judges (Related job titles include: Advocate, Barrister, Coroner, Crown Prosecutor, District Judge).

How to find the right SOC code

To determine the most appropriate SOC code to include on the CoS, you will need to check the list of eligible Skilled Worker occupations and select the code which most closely matches the role you are recruiting for.

If you are not sure which occupation code to use, there is guidance on the Office for National Statistics website. You can also search for jobs using the ONS occupation coding tool. You should then read the job descriptions for the possible occupation codes that the tool has identified, and select the closest match for the job you are offering.

If it is not immediately obvious which code matches to the job title, but you are sure it meets the skill and salary thresholds for the Skilled Worker route, you should consider the duties and responsibilities of the role to ensure you are not overlooking any codes which could be a match.

What happens if the wrong SOC code is used?

Selecting the wrong occupation code can lead to delays in the processing of the employee’s Skilled Worker visa. The Home Office may refuse the application if incorrect information has been provided, meaning a new application must be made with the correct code and you will have to pay the associated fees again. However, sponsors should take care not to provide false information to the Home Office as this could result in enforcement action being taken against your organisation and, depending on their findings, you could risk losing your sponsor licence.

You will not be able to sponsor a worker if the role in question does not match with one of the eligible occupation codes. Any visa application relying on an ineligible job will be refused. The Home Office will also not award points to an applicant (and so will refuse their application) if they have grounds to believe the sponsor has chosen a less appropriate occupation code for any of the following reasons:

  • The most appropriate occupation code for the job is not eligible on the Skilled Worker route
  • The most appropriate occupation code for the job has a higher going rate than the salary you propose to pay the worker
  • The applicant is claiming points for a job in a shortage occupation and the most appropriate occupation code is not a shortage occupation
  • The applicant is claiming points for an educational qualification and the most appropriate occupation code is not listed as eligible for PhD points.

When assessing if you have chosen an inappropriate SOC code, the Home Office may consider a number of factors, including:

  • Whether you have shown a genuine need for the job as described.
  • Whether the applicant has the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience needed to do the job as described in the CoS.
  • Your history of compliance with the immigration system, including paying your sponsored workers appropriately.

Beware of changes to SOC codes

Employers should be aware that the SOC code list is subject to change and therefore you will need to check the latest list each time you assign a Certificate of Sponsorship to ensure you are using an up to date code and meeting the current ‘going rate’ salary threshold for the occupation.

Although codes could change at any time, you can ensure your new hires have the best chance of securing visa approval by identifying SOC codes at the beginning of the recruitment process to ensure the role does in fact meet the skill and salary requirements.

Sponsorship advice and support

If you intend to recruit Skilled Workers within your business and require support with the sponsorship process, Smith Stone Walters can help.

Our dedicated sponsor licencing team can assist with everything from sponsor licence applications and compliance to handling individual visa cases for your assignees. To speak to a qualified immigration advisor, please contact us today.

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