Seasonal labor has always played a vital part in bringing home the horticulture harvests each year in the UK.
From 2019 to 2021, the government ran a series of annual pilots of an immigration visa route that provided 6-month visas for seasonal horticultural workers.
In December 2021, the government decided to expand and extend the visa route until the end of 2024. At that point, the government will assess the visa route again.
Due to the extension, the visa route is no longer a pilot. It will now be referred to as the Seasonal Worker visa route or ‘visa route.’
About the Seasonal Worker visa route
The visa route will run from 2022 to 2024 and currently allows up to:
- 38,000 temporary migrants to work in the UK edible and ornamental horticulture sectors
- 2,000 visas for temporary migrants to work in the UK poultry sector
The government announced this on 13 June 2022 in the Government food strategy. The quota for the Seasonal Worker visa route can change each year.
The purpose and aims of the visa route
The purpose of the visa route is to:
- provide an immigration route for workers in the horticulture and poultry sectors
- reduce shortages of seasonal workers in the horticulture and poultry sectors during seasonal peaks of demand
Allocating operators to deliver the visa route
An operator is an organization that has a license to sponsor migrants for temporary work in the UK through this visa route.
The government has concluded that the appropriate number of operators for the visa route is 5 horticultural operators and 2 poultry operators. These operators will manage the recruitment of seasonal workers through this visa route.
The current operators are:
- Concordia (current license expires at the end of 2022)
- Pro Force Limited (current license expires at the end of 2022)
- Fruitful Jobs (license continuing)
- AG Recruitment and Management Ltd (license continuing)
Defra will now complete a ‘request for information (RFI) process’ to tender new licenses to achieve these numbers. Through this process, Defra will select:
- 3 organizations as horticultural operators – 2 licenses to refresh expiring licenses and 1 new license
- 2 organizations as poultry operators – 2 new licenses
Subject to Home Office approval, these organizations will join the 2 continuing operators, Fruitful Jobs, and AG Recruitment and Management Ltd.
Operators cannot source workers for their own use, only as a third-party provider. Operators will source workers that qualifying farms or businesses can then seek access to. This will make sure access to seasonal workers is fair and equal.
11 July 2022 – Deadline to request clarification of questions
8 August 2022 – Deadline for horticulture potential operator responses
9 – 21 August – Defra assesses responses
22 August 2022 – Defra sends recommendations to Home Office for due diligence
For more information: