The UK government has announced a post-Brexit visa route for farm workers. The farm worker visa will be introduced next year in an attempt to fill the gap in the shortage of occupation in the farming industry post-Brexit. There is no doubt that the agricultural sector will be hit the hardest by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. It is suggested that more than half of the workers in UK farms are from EU countries. The farm worker visa scheme is likely to mirror the seasonal worker’s scheme that existed until 2013. The farm worker visa scheme will be open to non-EEA nationals. Therefore, EU nationals are urged to act and regularise their status before the UK’s departure from the EU in March 2019. EU nationals should consider applying for an EEA Residence Card or an EEA Document Certifying Permanent Residence.
The Farm Worker visa pilot scheme
The former seasonal workers’ scheme was scrapped in 2013 as workers from Bulgaria and Romania gained the automatic permission to work in the UK. This move had a significant impact in overcoming the gap in the shortage of labour in the agricultural sector. However, 5 years later, as a result of the EU referendum, it appears the agricultural sector faces another crisis in the shortage of labour. Kristine Hair, Conservative MP for Angus, in east-central Scotland, has expressed her concerns stating:
“Without sufficient farm workers, crops are left to rot in the field — a scene that was, unfortunately, witnessed last year. Some farms, for the first time, had to watch their wonderful premium produce waste away in the fields, as the workforce had dispersed by late in the season.”
The UK Government has acknowledged the shortage of labour in the farming industry and has introduced the farm worker visa. However, the new visa scheme has been heavily criticised by farms and fruit growers as not enough has been done to fill the gap post-Brexit. The farmers’ association says that there are currently 60,000 EU farms employed in the UK and many are required all year round. The new farm worker visa will allow 2500 non-EEA nationals to come to the UK for a period of 6 months. Therefore, the farm worker visa is not likely to fill the shortage of labour in farming and fruit picking. It also not clear, whether the temporary workers would be eligible to apply for an extension of stay within the UK. Home Secretary, Sajid Javid has said
“This pilot will ensure farms have access to the seasonal labour they need to remain productive and profitable during busy times of the year”.
The proposed introduction for the farm worker visa is between spring 2019 and December 2020.
EU nationals should regularise stay by applying for EEA Residence Card or EEA Permanent Residence
A Residence Card is a formal document, which confirms your right to live in the UK under European Law. You can apply for a Residence Card if you are a non-EEA national family member and your EEA family is exercising their treaty rights as a qualified person or must have permanent residence in the UK. Under the EEA regulations, a qualified person is someone who is in the UK working, self-sufficient, studying or currently searching for work. There are additional conditions, which need to be satisfied for the latter. We often receive a large number of inquiries in regards to who qualifies as a family member.
Family members can be split into two groups, you can either apply as a director extended family member. You will be considered as a direct family member if you are a:
- Spouse or civil partner of an EEA national;
- Direct descendants of an EEA national or their spouse; and
- Parents or grandparents of an EEA national are also considered as direct family members.
Direct family members have an automatic right to remain in the UK as long as the family member qualifies as a family member of an EEA national who is exercising treaty rights. Direct family members also have a right to permanent residence under Article 23 of Directive 2004/38/EC.
Under Regulation 8, the following people may be considered as extended family members, relatives of an EEA national or their spouse/civil Partner. To qualify as an extended family you must be able to demonstrate that you are dependent on the EEA national or their spouse and you are a member of the EEA nationals’ household.
EEA nationals may be eligible to submit an EEA Permanent Residence Application if they can meet the eligibility requirements under the EEA Regulations. An EEA Permanent Residence Application is made under the EC Directive 2004/38. We have listed some of the basic eligibility requirements below:
- Applicants must be a national of an EEA country;
- Applicants must be a qualified person;
- Applicants must be able to demonstrate 5 years continuous residence in the UK; and
- Applicants must not have any excess absences from the UK.
Non-EEA family members may also be eligible to apply for an EEA Permanent Residence document. In order to apply, the non-EEA family member must demonstrate that he/she is the family member of ‘qualified person’ and that they are residing with them in the UK.
Applicants applying for an EEA Permanent Residence application may be eligible to apply using the European Passport Return Service.
Using Legal Representation to apply for a farm work visa
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to make a farm worker visa application available under the Immigration Rules.
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject farm worker visa applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your farm worker visa application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.
This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your farm worker visa application meets the Immigration Rules.
Successful farm worker visa application
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your farm worker visa application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation of your immigration and visa application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. We are minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to successful farm worker visa applications. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess possible UK Visa routes and arrange your legal consultation.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.