The Seasonal Worker visa allows overseas workers to come to the UK for a short period temporarily. This route does not lead to long-term settlement in the UK. The government has recently announced that it will issue a maximum of 45,000 Seasonal Worker visas in the next 12 months.
This year, the visas are for people coming to do seasonal poultry production work or to work in horticulture in both the edible and ornamental sectors. Poultry workers can only come to the UK between 18 October and 31 December 2023. Horticultural workers can get up to six months’ permission to visit the UK. Visas are no longer available for HGV drivers.
Seasonal workers cannot bring their partners and children to the UK, and they cannot extend the visa.
Employers must recruit through ‘Scheme Operators’ who are licenced and endorsed by the government. These Scheme Operators are responsible for ensuring that employers look after the welfare of any Seasonal Workers. This has not prevented some employers from accommodating Seasonal Workers in appalling conditions and mistreating them. Seasonal workers from overseas often speak little English and are vulnerable to exploitation.
Scheme operators must only place workers with growers or poultry producers who have demonstrated that they are “actively engaging with Jobcentre Plus to recruit UK-based workers”.
Seasonal workers must be over 18 years old and of good character, so a criminal record will be a barrier. There is no Immigration Health Surcharge or English language requirement. However, a Seasonal Worker must have held £1270 in a bank account for 28 days before their application unless the Scheme Operator confirms they will ‘maintain and accommodate’ the worker for the first month of employment.
Although the government makes noises about reducing immigration, this country’s need for a seasonal workforce means the Seasonal Worker visa is likely to continue for a while.
Please contact our team if you would like to hear more about the seasonal worker visa.