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Politics

UK Extends Seasonal Worker Visa Programme – Here’s What You Need To Know

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The UK government has announced an extension to its seasonal worker visa program, which will continue until 2029. This is part of a broader strategy to support the agricultural sector and reduce reliance on migrant labor.

This extension is expected to provide stability and planning capability for farms and related businesses across the country.

In 2025, the government will offer 43,000 seasonal worker visas specifically for the horticulture sector and an additional 2,000 for the poultry sector. This allocation is part of a concerted effort to address labor shortages that have been particularly acute in these areas of agriculture.

Technological Investments and Automation

The decision to extend the visa program aligns with significant investments in technology aimed at automating agricultural processes. Up to £50 million has been earmarked for developing fully automated packhouses, and further initiatives are planned to bring robotic crop pickers to the efficiency levels of human laborers within the next three to five years.

Training and Domestic Workforce Development

The UK government is also focusing on enhancing skill training and attracting domestic workers to the agriculture sector. This includes substantial funding allocations for projects that increase farm productivity, with the goal of making the UK a global leader in agricultural innovation.

Seasonal Worker Visa Details

The seasonal worker visa, which replaces the Temporary Worker – Seasonal Worker visa (T5), allows individuals to work in the UK in sectors such as horticulture for up to six months and in poultry from October 2 to December 31 each year. Applications for poultry work must be submitted by November 15 annually, while those for horticulture can be made at any time.

Environment Secretary Steve Barclay highlighted the initiative’s benefits, stating, “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 labour.”

The extended visa program and the associated technological and training initiatives represent a dual approach by the UK government: supporting immediate labour needs while preparing for a more automated and domestically staffed future in agriculture. This strategic direction not only addresses immediate labour shortages but also fosters long-term sustainability and self-reliance in the sector.

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