The UK is to make thousands of emergency temporary work visas available to address critical labour shortages in the haulage and food processing industries.
Under the temporary visa scheme announced by the Government, a total of 10,500 three-month work permits will be issued by the Home Office, in an attempt to ‘save Christmas’ for Britains.
Shortages in HGV drivers transporting petrol to petrol stations have led to long queues, panic buying and closure of some petrol stations. The food industry has also been affected by shortages in labour within factories and haulage, resulting in shortages of food supplies to supermarkets and restaurants.
Emergency visas for lorry drivers & poultry workers
5,000 visas will be made available for lorry drivers to come to the UK to work between October and 24 December 2021.
5,500 visas are also being created for poultry workers for the same 3-month period.
Eligibility for the visa scheme will not be limited to certain nationalities, although it is expected that the majority of applications will be made by European nationals.
The additional visas are expected to form part of the T5 Seasonal Worker scheme. Further detail is awaited from the Home Office.
Addressing the UK labour crisis
Without the new emergency visa scheme, UK companies are not able to access migrant workers such as HGV drivers and factory workers under the current immigration rules. Following the end of EU free movement at the start of 2021, all non-UK residents must now apply for a visa to work in the UK. But the introduction of the UK’s new points-based immigration system removed any general ‘low skilled’ work visa routes. This means non-UK nationals must apply to work in the UK either by qualifying as a skilled migrant under a points-based route or under a specialist temporary work route, such as the seasonal worker scheme.
Loss of workers in the UK attributable to Brexit has been exacerbated by other factors such as low wages, poor working conditions and the pandemic. The haulage industry has also cited an ageing workforce and the current state of training and testing of new HGV drivers as contributing to the labour crisis.
Industries have responded that the scheme does not go far enough and is unlikely to have the necessary and immediate impact needed since worker shortages in both logistics and food production far surpass the 10,500 visas being created by the Government.
The visa changes are part of a package of responses by the government to address supply chain issues currently impacting the UK, including longer-term measures to attract more new drivers and address the post-COVID HGV testing backlog.
DavidsonMorris are UK immigration specialists. We work with employers across a broad range of sectors, including retail, logistics and food production, to support with all of their UK immigration needs, covering all work visa types and Home Office applications. If you have a question about the temporary work visa scheme, contact us.
Last updated: 26 September 2021
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