Article Executive

Visa for Geoprofessionals

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The Shortage Occupation List  maintained by the UK Boarder Agency (UKBA) identifies those job titles which are officially considered to be in short supply.   Ground Engineering Professionals were added to the list in 2005 and were retained on the list when more rigid and formal procedures were introduced in 2008.

Since 2010 the Government has introduced a number of measures to reduce immigration to the UK and it has become virtually impossible to get a work permit for non-EU nationals unless their job title is on the list.  Thanks to the information supplied by Members on each occasion, Ground Engineering occupations have survived reviews in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The 2011 review was the most difficult to date.  It was apparent that there are now fewer Geo-Professionals employed and it is hard to argue that there is a shortage at the relatively inexperienced end of the field  where new graduates are sometimes finding it difficult to get their first job. However experienced people remain in short supply – and certain specialist areas (eg tunnelling and hydrogeology) are particularly difficult.  As workloads pick up however, the picture is likely to change again, and the emigration of experienced people to Australia and New Zealand suggests the future may be even worse than pre-recession.

What does the Shortage Occupation List look like today for Geo-Professionals?

SOC code 2113 – Physicists, geologists and meteorologists
Only the following job titles are included:
Hydrogeologist; geophysicist; geoscientist; geophysical specialist; engineering geophysicist; engineering geomorphologist; geologist; geochemist; environmental scientist


SOC code 2121 – Civil Engineers
only the following job titles within this occupation are included:
Geotechnical engineers; geotechnical design engineer; geotechnical specialist; reservoir panel engineer; rock mechanics engineer; soil mechanics engineer; geomechanics engineer; tunnelling engineer; (and a number of job titles from the petroleum industry)

UKBA is trying to simplify the list.  Our research suggests that most of these job titles could be removed and replaced by:  engineering geologist, geotechnical engineer, and tunnelling engineer.  We will continue to work towards this.

Finally, if applying for a visa you should be aware that:-

1.  When applying for a visa it is ESSENTIAL to use one of the job titles on the list.  A job title not on the list will not get a visa.

2.  Engineering geologist does NOT currently appear in SOC Code 2113.  This is an oversight and until the list is next revised, visa staff at UKBA have been instructed that an engineering geologist is a geologist (and therefore on the list)

3.  Civil engineer is not on the list. Some HR departments have interpreted this as meaning that visas are not available for Chartered Engineers and therefore do not make an application.  However, geotechnical engineers (and currently variants on this theme) ARE there and CAN get visas.