Personal Immigration
Business Immigration

The New HGV Driver Visa Scheme in Context

With the UK government’s recent announcement of a new post-Brexit visa scheme for HGV lorry drivers and poultry workers, the UK’s current regime for temporary work visas has been brought under the spotlight. 

The UK government has announced that the new visa scheme, for up to 5,500 poultry workers and up to 5,000 lorry drivers, will fall under the existing Temporary Workers visa route. 

In this post, we will take a broader look at the different visa routes which are open to those wishing to come to the UK as Temporary Workers.

Short-term visa routes under the Temporary Worker route

The short-term visa routes outlined below do not lead directly to settlement in the UK, but are designed for individuals to come to the UK for limited periods in order to work. The duration of a Temporary Worker visa will depend on the particular category. 

Temporary Worker Categories 

Currently, there are three main subcategories in the Temporary Worker route: 

  1. Creative and Sporting Visa
  2. Seasonal Worker Visa
  3. Charity Worker Visa

For each of these categories, applicants must have a valid Certificate of Sponsorship, issued by a Home Office-approved sponsor, for the role they are planning to undertake in the UK. Certificates of Sponsorship must have been issued not more than 3 months before the visa application date. 

Applicants for Temporary Worker visas must also meet a financial requirement, by having cash funds of at least £1,270 which they have held for at least 28 consecutive days (ending not more than 31 days before their visa application date). 

Temporary Worker visa categories do not have an English language requirement. 

For each category, applicants must provide a valid tuberculosis certificate, if required.

Each Temporary Worker visa has a 14-day grace period, during which the individual may leave the UK after their permission to work has expired. 

Generally, applicants for Temporary Worker visas must apply from outside the UK. (This is subject to the exception that where a sports or creative worker has, or last had, permission as a standard visitor, has been in the UK undertaking permitted sporting or creative sector activities as a standard visitor, and was assigned a valid Certificate of Sponsorship on the Creative or Sporting Worker route before they entered the UK, they may switch into this category from within the UK.)

Applicants for Creative and Sporting Visas and Charity Worker Visas may also apply for their dependent partners, or dependent children (under the age of 18), to accompany them to the UK. However, applicants for Seasonal Worker Visas are not eligible to be accompanied by their partners or children. 

Applicants in each of these routes should receive a decision within 3 weeks of application. 

This visa route allows entrants to work in the UK for up to 12 months as a creative or sporting worker. 

creative worker is defined as someone who can make a unique contribution to the UK’s creative industries, for example, as an actor, dancer, musician, entertainer, fashion model or film crew. It is also possible for eligible creative workers to be accompanied by their technical or support staff. 

If you are applying for a visa as a Creative Worker your sponsor will be operating in the creative sector.  Examples include, but are not limited to: a national arts body, an events organiser, a producer, a venue, an agent, a promoter or promotion company, a production company or a media organisation.  Your sponsor may or may not be your direct employer.

When your sponsor issues a Certificate of Sponsorship they will confirm that:

  • You will comply with your relevant T5 Creative Worker Code of Practice where one exists for your occupation; or
  • Your role appeared in the shortage occupation list; or
  • Before assigning the Certificate of Sponsorship, your sponsor took into account the needs of the resident labour market and was satisfied that the work could not be carried out by a settled worker.

A sporting worker is defined as someone who is  internationally established at a high level in their sport and/or who can make a significant contribution to the development and operation of their sport at the highest level in the UK, for example as a sports person or coach. An eligible sporting worker can also be accompanied by their technical or support staff. 

If you are applying for a visa as a Sporting Worker your sponsor will be a UK-based sporting body, sports club, events organiser or other organiser operating in the sporting sector. The organisation will need to hold an endorsement from the relevant, Home Office-approved, sports governing body for your sport.  The organisation cannot be an overseas-based sports club or organisation or an agent. 

Before your sponsor can issue a Certificate of Sponsorship, they will need to secure an endorsement for you from the relevant UK Sports Governing Body for your sport.  The relevant UK Sports Governing Body will need to confirm that:

  • You are internationally established as a player or coach at the highest level and/or will make a significant contribution to the development of your sport at the highest level in the UK;
  • The post could not be filled by a settled worker;
  • You will need a copy of your sports governing body endorsement letter.

When your sponsor issues a Certificate of Sponsorship they will guarantee that:

  • You are internationally established at the highest level in your sport;
  • Your employment will make a significant contribution to the development and operation of your sport in the UK;

If your UK Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting Visa (T5) application is successful you will be permitted to enter and remain in the UK for either 12 months, or the time stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship plus up to 14 days before and after the period of leave granted, whichever is shorter.

Creative Workers who wish to continue working for the same sponsor may apply to extend their stay for up to a maximum  of 24 months.  Creative workers who wish to change employers may only stay in the UK for a maximum of 12 months.

Sporting Workers may apply to extend their stay for up to a maximum  of 12 months.

If your application for a UK Temporary Worker – Creative and Sporting Visa (T5) is successful you will be able to work for your sponsor in the job described on your Certificate of Sponsorship.  

You will also be able to have a second job in the same sector and at the same level as your main job for up to 20 hours per week and do a job on the Skilled Worker shortage occupation list for up to 20 hours per week.

If you are a Sporting Worker you will also be able to work as a sportsperson for your national team whilst it is playing in a British University and College Sport (BUCS) competition and work as a sports broadcaster.

In order to qualify for a UK Temporary Worker – Seasonal Worker Visa (T5), your proposed role must be an eligible farm role, which falls within the ‘edible horticulture’ sector.

This means that, in order to meet the requirements for a UK Seasonal Worker visa, the type of produce being farmed must be: 

  • Protected Vegetables – grown in glasshouse systems; or
  • Field Vegetables – grown outdoors, including vegetables, herbs, leafy salads and potatoes; or
  • Soft Fruit – grown both outdoors or under cover e.g. in glasshouses or a polytunnel. This includes strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and all rabes and rubus species; or
  • Top Fruit (Orchard Fruit) – trees that bear fruit e.g. apples, plums, cherries, apricots; or
  • Vine and Bines – both twining or climbing flexible stems of certain plants, e.g. hops, grapes; or
  • Mushrooms – typically covers Agaricus bisporus species but can also include more exotic species (typically grown indoors).

Seasonal Worker Visa applications are currently subject to a fee reduction. The Home Office application fee for a UK Seasonal Worker visa application is usually, £244, but this fee will be automatically reduced by £55 if you are a national of one of the following countries:

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.

If your application for a UK Temporary Worker – Seasonal Worker Visa (T5) is successful, you will be granted permission to enter and remain in the UK for up to 6 months in any 12 month period, or for the 14 days before and after the duration of your role (as stated on your Certificate of Sponsorship), whichever is shorter.

You will be permitted to enter the UK up to 14 days before the start date of your job.

Whilst in the UK as a Seasonal Worker, you will be permitted to work in the job you have been sponsored for.  You will be permitted to study (for some courses you’ll need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate).

You will not be allowed to accept a permanent job, work in a second job or work in a job that has not been described in your Certificate of Sponsorship. You will also not be entitled to public funds.

You must be aged 18 or over to apply in this category. 

In order to qualify as charity work under the Charity Worker (T5) visa, the work you are planning to undertake must meet three criteria:

  • First, it must be voluntary fieldwork which directly contributes to your sponsor’s charitable purpose. This includes activities which would not normally be offered for a wage or salary. It does not include supportive work such as routine administrative, retail, or fund-raising roles.
  • Second, the work cannot be paid or remunerated, unless it is for reasonable expenses incurred in order to perform your duties.
  • Finally, you must not be filling a position (even temporarily) which is required on a permanent basis.

The application fee for UK Charity Worker (T5) visa is currently £244. If applying with dependants, the applicant must each complete an application and pay the fee separately. The fee is automatically reduced by £55 if you are a national of one of the following countries:

Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden or Turkey.

If your application for a UK Charity Worker (T5) visa is approved, your visa will allow you to enter and stay in the UK for up to 12 months or the time given on your certificate of sponsorship plus 14 days, whichever is shorter.  You will be able to enter the UK up to 14 days before your job’s start date.

You will only be allowed to work in the role you are sponsored for, although volunteering with other organisations is permitted. You will be allowed to study (for some courses you may need an Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate).

If you are under 18 years old, you must provide written consent from both parents, one parent (if they have sole legal responsibility), or a legal guardian. This must demonstrate support for your application, travel and living arrangements.

Contact our Immigration Barristers

For expert advice regarding the requirements for leave in the UK in a business category, contact our immigration barristers on 0203 617 9173 or complete our enquiry form below.

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