Despite the pressures on the UK government to reduce net migration, they have committed to extending the Seasonal Worker visa scheme for a further year in 2024 as part of a package of support for farmers.
What is the seasonal worker scheme?
The seasonal worker visa is a temporary one that allows fruit and vegetable pickers to apply under the horticulture route to come and work in the UK if they have a sponsoring approved operator and meet various eligibility criteria. It also allows temporary visas for those in the poultry production sector during certain periods of the year.
You can apply for a Seasonal Worker visa to come to the UK and work in:
- horticulture for up to six months (e.g. to pick fruit, vegetables or flowers); or
- poultry from 2 October to 31 December (in the same year).
Although applications for horticulture Seasonal Worker visas can be made at any time of year, applications for poultry Seasonal Worker visas must be made by 15 November each year.
The story so far…
The Prime Minister has recently committed to making available another 45,000 seasonal worker visas to the horticultural sector over the next year to support producers to plan ahead for the picking season.
While this commitment rejected the industry’s call for a five-year rolling scheme, the announcement comes earlier than last year and aims at giving “further certainty” to growers planning for their next harvest.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) for England and Wales has been lobbying the government on behalf of its members to support the supply of seasonal workers for some time so this is certainly a positive step forward. It will bring some relief to growers who continue to struggle to find the skilled labour needed to continue to produce the nation’s fruit and vegetables.
How can we help?
Our immigration experts are on hand to advise and guide you through the planning process for visas under the Seasonal Worker scheme. If you would like support with applying for this visa then please contact Tijen Ahmet or Calum Hanrahan in our business immigration team.
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