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UK Seasonal Worker Visa Requirements and Application

The UK seasonal work visa is a short term work visa that allows sponsored overseas workers to come to the UK to work for up to 6 months in the areas of horticulture and poultry.

Please note the Heavy Good Vehicle driver (HGV) seasonal work visa route is now closed. Seasonal workers coming to work in the UK’s horticulture industry, including in the areas of picking fruit, vegetables, and flowers, can stay for up to 6 months. Those coming to work in the poultry industry can stay between the dates of 18th October to 31st December in any year.

In addition to working in their sponsored seasonal job, seasonal worker visa holders can also study. However, seasonal worker visa holders cannot take a permanent job, work in a second job, access public funds (e.g. benefits), or bring family to the UK.

UK Seasonal Worker visa requirements

To make a successful application for a seasonal worker visa UK, applicants must:

  • Be 18 years or over
  • Have a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from a UK seasonal employer, and
  • Have at least £1,270 in funds to support yourself in the UK

Due to the sponsorship requirement, seasonal workers can only work for UK employers with a Home Office sponsorship licence.

If you are from EU Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein

Following the UK’s departure from the EU (Brexit), EU/EEA nationals no longer enjoy the freedom of movement between the EU / EEA and the UK. Therefore EU nationals moving to the UK after Brexit for work will require a visa. However, instead of applying for a seasonal worker visa, EU and EEA nationals who wish to do seasonal work in the UK may be able to work in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS).

The EUSS allows EU and EEA nationals who were living in the UK before the end of 2020 to live and work in the UK without needing a visa. Technically applications for pre-settled status or settled status under the EUSS closed on 30th June 2021, but you can still apply if you have reasonable grounds for not applying by the deadline (e.g. due to medical reasons or if you were a victim of domestic abuse). As an EU or EEA national, if you do not have pre-settled or settled status under the EUSS, you will need to apply for a work visa to work in the UK.

Other UK Work Visas

There are several other UK work visas that allow overseas workers to work in the UK for the short or long term, including the following:

Skilled worker visa (long-term work visa)

The Skilled worker visa is the most popular work visa in the UK and allows overseas nationals with the necessary skills and experience to work in an eligible occupation for an approved employer. Skilled Worker visa holders can stay in the UK for up to 5 years, at which point they can apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR).

To apply for a Skilled Worker visa, applicants must have a Certificate of Sponsorship for an eligible occupation and receive a salary of at least £25,600, the ‘going rate’ for their role, or £10.10 per hour. Applicants must also meet the English language requirements and have at least £1,270 in funds to support themselves while in the UK.

Service supplier visa (short-term work visa)

The Service supplier visa is part of the UK global mobility visa scheme and enables foreign nationals to come to the UK to provide services to a company here as part of a contract provided under a trade agreement. This may be either as an employee of an overseas company or as a self-employed professional who is normally based overseas. Service supplier visa holders can stay for up to 6 or 12 months, depending on the type of trade agreement.

To apply for a Service supplier visa, applicants must work for an overseas company or be self-employed and intend to provide a service to a UK company under a contract covered by an international trade agreement. They must have a Certificate of Sponsorship, do an eligible job, and have worked for their overseas employer for at least 1 year. Alternatively, they must have worked for 1 year as a self-employed person.

Graduate visa (short-term work visa)

The Graduate visa allows overseas nationals who have just completed their studies in the UK to stay for up to 2 or 3 years (3 years for those with a Ph.D. or other doctorate qualification. Graduate visa holders can travel, find work, be self-employed, live with their partner and children in the UK, and do voluntary work. While it is not possible to extend the graduate visa or apply for ILR, it is possible to switch to a different type of UK visa, such as a Skilled Worker visa.

To make a successful application for a Graduate visa, applicants must have passed a suitable course – suitable courses include a UK bachelor’s degree, a UK master’s degree, a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), or a law conversion course approved by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

High Potential Individual visa (long-term work visa)

Another work visa in the long-term category is the High Potential Individual visa. The UK HPI visa is specifically for those who graduated from a top international university from outside the UK in the last 5 years. HPI visa holders can stay for up to 2 years or 3 years if they have a Ph.D. or other doctoral qualification.

At the end of the 2 or 3 years, HPI visa holders who wish to stay for longer in the UK will have to switch to a different type of visa. HPI visa holders can work in most jobs without sponsorship, seek employment, be self-employed, live with their dependant partner and child, do voluntary work, and travel freely.

To be eligible, HPI applicants must have studied at an eligible top university1, meet the English language requirement, and have sufficient savings to support themselves in the UK.


References

1 GOV.UK: Qualifying universities list

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