Since 1 April, a concession has been in place from the UKBA for non-visa nationals wishing to enter the country through temporary employment as sheep shearers, without an employment visa.
In 2009, with the introduction of the Points-Based System, businesses across the UK were struggling to shepherd a smooth path into the country for the skilled shearers, many of whom were coming from Australia and New Zealand.
There was outcry from the wool industry at the time with shearers not getting to the UK in time due to the UK Border Agency processing times. This caused Frank Langrish, chairman of the British Wool Marketing Board for East Sussex to speak out. In an interview with the Telegraph he said:
"If they don't arrive in the coming weeks we are facing a serious welfare situation in our flocks".
This latest concession appears to take account of these comments. Since 1 April non-visa nationals looking to come to the UK for the purpose of sheep shearing are not subject to the entry clearance requirement, however the Immigration Officer must be satisfied that the person is genuinely seeking entry to provide services as a sheep shearer.
In addition, they will need to satisfy the Immigration Officer that they can adequately maintain and accommodate themselves without recourse to public funds during their time in the UK and that they intend to leave the UK at the end of their stay. Those entering under this concession must also not fall under general grounds for refusal.
Don't let this concession pull the wool over your eyes; you will not be able to undertake this employment in the UK on a permanent basis. Those coming in under the concession will be admitted for a maximum period of three months and will have their employment limited to a specific employer or contractor.
This concession will now run for two more months before ending on 30 June 2013.