In September the government announced that HGV drivers and Poultry workers would be eligible for temporary visas from October.
This has seen a shift away from ‘Low-skilled’ workers, presented by the immigration system introduced by Brexit. However, Education and Business leaders have signed a joint letter to cabinet members to expand the Temporary Visa Scheme. The letter highlighted the need for the measure introduced in September, as a means to combat empty shelves and fuel shortages.
The letter to members such as home secretary Priti Patel warned that without the introduction of further temporary routes, the UK would not recover. In the long term, this letter called for additional funding for training and greater powers for reskilling programs.
The two current Temporary Visa routes will allow the following workers in anticipation for Christmas:
- 5,000 HGV drivers – 3 Months validity on the run-up to Christmas
- 5,500 Poultry workers – between October and 24th December
The visa routes will be introduced under the ‘Seasonal Worker Route, currently, this route is limited to agricultural workers:
The new visas for HGV drivers delivering food and poultry workers will come under the existing seasonal worker’s route framework. This visa is a time-limited once-only provision that recognises the extraordinary set of circumstances facing the UK food supply chain.
The introduction of these exceptions has received several criticisms;
Firstly, although the measure was introduced to assist with the petrol shortage, the HGV drivers are restricted to the ‘food supply chain’ and therefore are unable to give support in this area.
Secondly, those under Seasonal Worker Visas are granted a 6-months stay in the UK. The 2 newly introduced routes only provide 3 months. This would have meant that if an individual did not leave by Christmas Eve they would risk overstaying. However, under these temporary routes, there is a 14-day grace period for someone to leave the UK after their permission to work has expired.
Finally, the restrictiveness and short-term nature of this introduction have meant that many believe it was only introduced to make bad headlines disappear.