UK Seasonal Worker visa
route extended for 5 years

The UK government has announced that it will extend the Seasonal Worker visa route for five years until 2029, “to give businesses time to plan effectively, to invest in automation and move away from a reliance on migrant labour”.

43,000 visas will be available to the horticulture sector in 2025, with another 2000 visas for poultry. Further detail of the number of visas available for 2026 to 2029 will be set out later this year.  This represents a reduction of 2000 visas in addition to removing the extra 10,000 visas potentially available if sector demand had required.

The government will also work to improve the attractiveness of the sector for domestic workers, delivering regional recruitment strategies to support jobseekers into roles in food and farming, and building greater collaboration between government, industry and education providers.

The Migration Advisory Committee’s ongoing inquiry into the Seasonal Worker visa route is due to be published in summer 2024.

What is a Seasonal Worker visa?

The Seasonal Worker visa is designed to allow overseas nationals to come to the UK to undertake temporary work in specific sectors.

You can apply for a Seasonal Worker visa to come to the UK and work in:

  • The Horticulture sector for up to 6 months – for example, picking fruit and vegetables or flowers.
  • The Poultry sector from 2 October to 31 December, in the same year.

In order to apply for a Seasonal Worker visa, you must have a job offer from an approved sponsor in the UK and meet the eligibility requirements for the route.

Seasonal Worker sponsorship requirements

In order to sponsor a Seasonal Worker, you must be an approved scheme operator and hold a valid Temporary Worker sponsor licence for the Seasonal Worker route.

There are already overarching bodies (scheme operators) which have been approved for a sponsor licence for this route to sponsor workers in poultry production and/or horticulture. No further scheme operators will be issued with a sponsor licence on this route without prior approval to be a scheme operator.

Individual employers and organisations are not eligible for a sponsor licence on this route, even if they are licensed as a sponsor on other routes.

Employers that have already been granted a licence must comply with all sponsor duties (including additional responsibilities as an approved scheme operator). Failure to maintain compliance could result in the licence being downgraded, suspended or revoked.

Expert immigration support for UK businesses

If you have any questions on any of the above changes, or if you wish to discuss a specific immigration query, Smith Stone Walters can help. To speak to a qualified immigration advisor, please contact us today.

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