EU Exit: Seasonal Workers Pilot
Last updated 9 February 2021
The Seasonal Workers Pilot, originally launched in 2019, has been extended and expanded until the end of 2021. There are 30,000 visas available for those wanting to come to the UK and work on farms for a period of up to six months. This enables workers from outside the UK to help horticulture growers pick and package their produce in 2021.
The Seasonal Workers Pilot will continue to be managed by the Home Office under the T5 (Temporary Worker) Seasonal Worker immigration route and is for migrants coming to the UK as seasonal workers in the edible horticulture sector. Edible horticulture sector means those growing:
- protected vegetables – those grown in glasshouse systems
- field vegetables – those grown outdoors, including vegetables, herbs, leafy salads, and potatoes
- soft fruit – those grown outdoors or undercover (for example, in glasshouses or a polytunnel), such as strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and all ribes and rubus species
- top fruit (orchard fruit) – trees that bear fruit, such as apples, plums, cherries, and apricots
- vine and bines – both twining or climbing flexible stems of certain plants – for example, hops is a bine, and grapes is a vine
- mushrooms – typically covers Agaricus bisporus species but can also include more exotic species; typically grown indoors
‘Seasonal work’ means employment which fluctuates or is restricted according to the season or time of the year. Applicants can come to the UK for a maximum period of 6 months’ employment in the UK within any 12-month period under the scheme.
In assigning a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to a migrant who will take part in the Seasonal Workers scheme, the sponsor guarantees that the applicant:
- is at least 18 years old
- will not establish a business in the UK
- will only take employment in a seasonal job permitted by this scheme, and with an employer in the horticultural sector that has been assigned by them
- will comply with the conditions of their entry clearance and will leave the UK when it expires
Two scheme operators – Concordia and Pro-Force – have been licensed to manage the pilot. They will be responsible for identifying suitable workers and matching them to UK farmers. They will also be required to ensure the welfare of the workers while they are in the UK.