UK Considers New Short-Term Work Visa for EU Workers

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By Sanwar Ali:

The UK government is currently mulling over the establishment of a short-term work visa program targeted at EU workers, with a particular focus on the hospitality industry. The post-Brexit UK visa scheme including the sponsor licence and Skilled Worker visa scheme has not been able to effectively deal with labor shortages. This move could potentially offer a solution to the long-standing issue of labour shortages in this sector. In this article, we will delve into the details of this proposed scheme, its potential impact on EU workers, the hospitality industry, and the UK economy, as well as its legal implications and the public opinion surrounding it.

1. Introduction to the Scheme

The UK government reportedly initiated conversations with several EU countries about new youth mobility schemes. According to The Times the Conservative Government is thinking of introducing youth mobility schemes for workers in France, Germany, Spain and Switzerland. The objective is to benefit the economy without affecting net migration figures, which reached a record high last year.

The scheme under consideration would allow young individuals aged 18-30 from select countries to work in the UK for up to two years without needing employer sponsorship from a business with a sponsor licence. They would also be exempt from the skill and salary threshold requirements that presently apply under the Skilled Worker visa route. This means that employers could use this scheme to fill lower wage roles within their business.

2. Impact on EU Workers and the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry, a sector heavily reliant on EU workers, has been significantly affected by recent events, including Brexit, the pandemic, and a tougher economic climate. The post-Brexit immigration rules in the UK have made it challenging for employers to fill certain vacancies, such as waiters, baristas, and housekeepers.

If approved, this short-term visa scheme could provide a lifeline for this struggling industry. Trade body UKHospitality estimates that vacancies in the sector are approximately 48% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

3. Potential Impact on the UK Economy

The introduction of the short-term visa scheme could have a substantial impact on the UK economy. With an influx of foreign workers, businesses in the hospitality industry could fill vacancies faster, leading to increased productivity and revenue. This could, in turn, contribute to overall economic recovery, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.

4. Legal Implications and Requirements

Employers that wish to recruit overseas hospitality workers usually apply to sponsor the workers via the Skilled Worker route. To use this route, the employer must hold a valid Home Office sponsor licence.

The introduction of a short-term visa scheme would alter this process. Young workers from selected countries would be able to work in the UK for up to two years without needing employer sponsorship. This would exempt them from the skill and salary threshold requirements that currently apply under the Skilled Worker route.

5. Public Opinion and Political Considerations

Public opinion on the short-term visa scheme is currently divided. While some see it as a necessary step to address labour shortages in the hospitality industry, others view it as a potential threat to domestic employment.

The political implications of this scheme are also noteworthy. With Brexit and its aftermath still fresh in public memory, the government's decision to potentially relax immigration controls, even on a short-term basis, could stir controversy.

6. Alignment with Current UK Immigration Policy

The proposed short-term visa scheme marks a deviation from the current UK immigration policy, which largely favours skilled workers and imposes rigorous requirements on employers seeking to sponsor overseas workers. If implemented, this scheme could signify a shift in the UK's approach towards immigration, particularly in sectors plagued by labour shortages.

7. Example of Brexit failure

The UK government's consideration of a short-term visa scheme for EU hospitality workers could potentially be a game-changer for the industry. I would appear that the post-Brexit UK immigration system has failed to deal with the needs of the economy. However, increasing the number of overseas workers in the UK is likely to face opposition from a number of their own Conservative MPs.

How Can Help with Sponsor Licences

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