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UK to offer 43,000 seasonal worker visas, prolongs visa program by 5 years 

Nigeria emerges second highest Worker visa recipie

The UK government plans to offer 43,000 seasonal worker visas to the horticulture sector and an additional 2,000 to the poultry sector in 2025.

The government has also prolonged the visa program for an additional five years, extending it until 2029.

This comes as a bid to support farmers and growers in transitioning to automated solutions, and aims “to afford businesses the opportunity to plan adequately, invest in automation, and reduce dependence on migrant labor.”

Nairametrics learns that the government is addressing labor shortages within the food supply chain by investing in technology to lessen the reliance on migrant labor, thereby providing stability and clear guidance for farms and other food-related businesses throughout the UK.

Following John Shropshire’s Independent Review of Labor Shortages in the Food Supply Chain, the government plans to roll out several new initiatives to aid the sector. These initiatives include:

The UK government has extended the seasonal worker visa route for an additional five years, until 2029, to allow businesses ample time to plan and adapt.

In response to labor needs, it is allocating up to £50 million for the development of fully automated packhouses, with additional support planned to bring robotic crop pickers to the efficiency level of human pickers within three to five years. Furthermore, a comprehensive strategy will be developed to enhance skills training and attract domestic workers.

About the Seasonal Worker visa

The seasonal visa has replaced the Temporary Worker – Seasonal Worker visa (T5).

Individuals can therefore apply for this visa to work in the UK in sectors such as horticulture for up to 6 months—this includes tasks like picking fruit, vegetables, or flowers—and in poultry from October 2 to December 31 each year.

For those applying for poultry work, applications must be submitted by November 15 annually, while those for horticulture can be made any time.

Applicants need to have a sponsor and meet other eligibility criteria. This visa has replaced the Temporary Worker – Seasonal Worker visa (T5).

How the UK government is supporting agriculture

The government is increasing its support for using machines in farming. They are planning to completely automate several large packing facilities within the next 12 to 18 months. This will help them understand how much support is needed to use automation widely in agriculture.

The government is working with technology companies to speed up the creation of robots that can harvest crops, hoping to make these robots as good as human workers within three to five years in order to make the UK a world leader in agricultural innovation.

This effort comes after the Prime Minister announced the biggest ever farming grants at the NFU Conference earlier this year, with £427 million available, doubling the money for projects that increase farm productivity.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay emphasized, “We have a world-class food and drink sector, and the measures announced today will strengthen this by boosting funding for cutting-edge technology that will reduce long-term reliance on migrant labor.

“Businesses do best when they can plan effectively for the future, which is why we’ve extended the seasonal worker visa route until 2029, providing farmers and growers with the certainty they need to thrive.”

Applications for the visa can be made here

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