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Seasonal Worker Scheme

Recruiting seasonal workers

Labour market shortages in the UK are acutely felt in the agriculture and horticulture sectors. Businesses and farms operating in these sectors find that overseas recruitment is vital to cover seasonal peaks in activity. The Seasonal Worker Scheme provides a visa route for overseas nationals to enter the UK for up to 6 months in any 12-month period to work in the sector, picking and processing fruit and vegetables or flowers.

How to secure a Seasonal Worker visa

The Seasonal Worker visa route requires that a candidate has a job offer in the UK. One of the licensed overarching bodies (scheme operators) will issue a certificate of sponsorship to the candidate. The overarching bodies are endorsed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and licensed by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority. Individual employers and organisations do not hold licences in this route.

The certificate of sponsorship must confirm that a worker will be paid at least the minimum required rate for each hour worked and if they are being sponsored in the horticulture sector will receive at least 32 hours paid employment each week.

The employer must pay at least the National Minimum Wage and must satisfy the Working Time Directive which provides rules to cover how many hours a week UK based workers work and provides rules on breaks and holiday entitlement.

A Seasonal Worker may need to demonstrate that they have enough money to support themselves in the UK, although UK based sponsors usually confirm that they will certify this maintenance requirement.

What work can I do in the UK as a Seasonal Worker visa holder?

The role which is offered must be an eligible role. This means that it involves the picking or harvesting of edible horticulture.

A Seasonal Worker will only have permission to work in the job described in their certificate of sponsorship. They are not permitted to take a permanent job in the UK or to work in a second or supplementary job. They will have access to NHS services but will not be able to access public funds in the UK.

Can a Seasonal Worker bring their dependants?

Dependants of a Seasonal Worker are not permitted to apply to accompany or join the main applicant.

How can Freeths help?

Our team of immigration solicitors are experienced in securing visa clearance to fill labour shortages in the UK. We can provide assistance with preparing and submitting the required visa application.

We provide a responsive, full-service approach to ensure every visa matter is dealt with successfully and with a short lead time between instructions and grant of visa clearance. Our fees are fair and transparent, giving you certainty as to costs at the outset.

If you would like to know more about the Seasonal Worker Scheme, or need help with any immigration matter, then please contact our immigration team, who are on hand to help.  

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