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UK set to review foreign worker visa conditions to ease labour shortage

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UK set to review foreign worker visa conditions to ease labour shortage

As the UK labour shortage continues, it has been reported that Prime Minister Liz Truss is to launch a review of the UK’s visa scheme.

The move would help to alleviate the strain on key sectors of the economy which are affected by shortages, according to a report in the Financial Times (FT).

What are the current rules?

The rules for those who came to the UK for work from January 2021 include:

  • Having a job offer from a licensed sponsor
  • Meeting certain skills/salary criteria
  • The ability to speak English
  • Being on the list of eligible occupations
  • Being paid a minimum salary, depending on the job

The visa can last up to five years and can be extended as many times as needed providing the eligibility requirements are still met.

The proposals would mean employers would no longer have to prove there was no suitable local worker for the vacancy and the current salary threshold would not have to be met.

The newspaper said the proposed change could target specialists from abroad, such as broadband engineers which are in short supply, while the hospitality and agriculture sectors could also benefit.

Businesses frustrated at shortages

In agriculture, lifting the cap would increase the 38,000 seasonal visas which have already been issued in that sector.

The Seasonal Worker route allows employers in the edible horticulture sector to source workers for up to six months through an approved scheme operator.

Businesses have been frustrated that the visa system for skilled workers has not been responsive enough to alleviate the shortages.

The FT quoted an official from Downing Street who said the country has to have the right skills that the economy, including the rural economy, needs to stimulate growth, which will involve increasing numbers in some areas and decreasing in others.

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