The UK government has announced relaxing its immigration rules for the oil and gas sector in a bid to hire more skilled foreign engineers.

The announcement has boosted the sector as 20 new engineering job categories will be added to an exemption list to help businesses bring skilled foreign workers to fill the posts that are lying vacant.

Oil and gas companies can now employ workers from outside Europe.

Following a review, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) advised immigration authorities to add the newly created job categories to the Shortage Occupation List (SOL).

SOL is a register of jobs, which are exempted from the strict immigration rules, which severely limit employers from taking on skilled foreigners.

The new jobs categories such as mechanical, production and electrical engineers will be added to the SOL.

UK Immigration and employment law expert Jill Turner said the decision to relax the strict immigration rules will benefit Aberdeen’s oil and gas sector, which is finding it hard to fill the vacancies of skilled workers.

"The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has listened to the concerns of employers and has taken steps to make it easier for firms to recruit outside Europe," Turner added.

"MAC have acknowledged that there is a shortage of specialist skills in Aberdeen which is vital to the oil and gas industry and that it’s not possible to train people for those posts in the short term."