Learn everything about the Seasonal Worker Visa, its benefits, and application process. Discover how it can benefit employers and workers

The Seasonal Worker visa

Are you thinking about applying for the Seasonal Worker visa, in the UK? If you are you’ve found the place. This detailed guide will take you through all the information you need to understand about this visa category from its purpose and eligibility requirements to the process of applying and recent changes.

Overview of the Seasonal Worker Route

The Seasonal Worker route is part of the Temporary Worker visas group, created to enable short-term job opportunities in the United Kingdom. It permits individuals to work in the UK for durations typically up to six months. By March 2023 Seasonal Worker visas made up a portion of all worker approvals with 35,122 visas issued during that year alone. This figure represented a 10% increase compared to the year showing how popular and useful this visa category is.

Versatile Visa Categories

The Seasonal Worker route is adaptable in its implementation catering to industries based on labor demands and emergencies. While it mainly serves workers it has been. Adjusted to address emerging labor shortages in other sectors as well. For example amid shortages of HGV drivers and pork butchers, in 2021 the Seasonal Worker route briefly expanded its coverage to include these professions.

A notable development, in times, is the expansion of Seasonal Worker visa quotas. In 2022, were 38,000 visas up for grabs with around 35,000 being utilized. By May a larger quota of 45,000 visas was announced for the year. These expansions showcase the UK government’s dedication to tackling labor shortages and creating opportunities for workers.

Who Qualifies for Seasonal Worker Visas?

According to Immigration Rules, the Seasonal Worker route is designed for individuals looking for work in horticulture or poultry production in the UK. While this category previously included roles like haulage driving and pork butchery it now focuses on horticulture and poultry production roles. It’s crucial to keep the positions eligible under this visa program since the list can be subject to periodic changes.

Quotas and Criteria

It’s worth noting that there is a quota of 45,000 certificates of sponsorship for 2023. This quota could potentially increase by 10,000 if certain conditions are met – such as farmers enhancing worker welfare standards.

However, it should be highlighted that only a limited number of visas are designated for poultry sector workers now. Other categories, like HGV drivers no longer qualify for Seasonal Worker visas.

The obligations of Sponsors

Sponsorship License

To sponsor individuals through the Seasonal Worker program organizations must meet requirements. Individual employers are not eligible, for Seasonal Worker sponsor licenses; instead, they need to be endorsed as an approved scheme operator by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Authorized by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.

Currently, there are six approved scheme operators, out of which only two can issue certificates of sponsorship in the poultry industry. These scheme operators function similarly to recruitment agencies facilitating the connection between workers and employers while overseeing the process.

Worker Well being

Ensuring worker well-being is a priority within the Seasonal Worker program. Scheme operators are tasked with guaranteeing that workers are treated fairly and that their working conditions adhere to safety and health standards. Key aspects of worker well-being include;

Maintaining a work environment

Fair treatment without repercussions based on work pace

Issuing employment contracts in both the worker’s language and English

Adhering to National Minimum Wage laws and Holiday Pay regulations

Allowing sufficient time off and breaks

The emphasis on worker well-being stems from acknowledging that Seasonal Workers, particularly those who may not be fluent in English could be, at risk of exploitation. 

Requirements, for Workers Seeking Seasonal Worker Visas


Individuals seeking Seasonal Worker visas must fulfill the conditions. They are required to complete a visa application pay the application fee and undergo verification (fingerprinting and photo identification) at a designated visa center. Moreover, they need to submit all documents and hold a sponsorship certificate issued at least three months before the application submission.


Applicants are expected to meet suitability standards as per the Immigration Rules, which include maintaining a record.


The eligibility criteria are relatively clear-cut. Candidates must seek entry clearance (visa approval in advance). Possess a sponsorship certificate. This certificate must confirm their status as a Seasonal Worker along with job responsibilities and salary specifics. The minimum wage requirement stands at £10.42 per hour; however certain sectors and roles have varying stipulations.

For instance, employees in the poultry industry must earn an income of £26,200 while those in horticulture and related fields need to work at least 32 hours weekly. These salary and work hour prerequisites aim to ensure worker welfare and address exploitation concerns, within these industries.

What Happens When Your Visa Gets Approved

After obtaining a Seasonal Worker visa successful candidates typically receive a visa sticker in their passport, which is valid, for the specified work period. They are required to arrive in the UK according to the start date indicated on their certificate of sponsorship and the approved timeline provided by their UK sponsor for completing the assigned tasks.

Employers must carry out a right-to-work check before the worker’s commencement date considering any updates in right-to-work verification requirements.

In the UK Ukrainian nationals constitute a proportion of Seasonal Workers. Particularly noteworthy is that Ukrainian Seasonal Workers encountered challenges following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. To address this situation the Home Office extended the duration of stay for nationals holding Seasonal Worker visas until December 2022. 

However, they were not eligible to participate in programs such as the Homes for Ukraine Scheme or the Ukraine Family Scheme.

The Seasonal Worker scheme has experienced growth since its inception in 2019 with quotas expanding. Despite government deliberations on reducing immigration levels there continues to be a demand, for seasonal workers. Although the quota might decrease in the years, probably, there will still be several workers participating in the program. 

In closing the Seasonal Worker program presents a chance, for those looking for work opportunities in the UK. With growing quotas and a focus on worker well-being, it continues to be a choice, for workers. If you are thinking about applying for a Seasonal Worker visa make sure you meet the eligibility requirements and collaborate with a scheme operator to navigate the application process smoothly.

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