The Home Office is planning to limit the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) exclusively to Bulgarians and Romanians by 01 January 2008. Under the current plan, it will remain in place as is until then.
Restricting the SAWS scheme to Bulgaria and Romania is already causing some controversy. Farmers and employment agencies are set to launch a legal challenge for forcing them to give priority to workers from Bulgaria and Romania.
They see it as a purely political decision by the United Kingdom for placing immigration and work restrictions on workers from both countries after their accession to the European Union on 01 January 2007.
The UK experienced an unexpected high level of immigration from Eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and wishes to avoid a similar problem with the two new member states.
The SAWS scheme was introduced to allow farmers and growers in the UK to hire foreign workers to help with agricultural and seasonal work. The scheme helps employers meet the shortfalls in seasonal labor from within the UK.
The Home Office has also just announced that it will keep the Sectors Based Scheme (SBS) Work Permits program open specifically for Bulgarians and Romanians. Previously, the program had been scheduled to be closed down.
More than 15,000 workers arrive each year under the scheme.
• UK - SAWS quotas to be reduced under immigration review
• UK Home Office and Gangmaster Licensing Authority joint statement
• British government announces plan to allow more short-term foreign workers to work in the United Kingdom
• Romania and Bulgaria lobby the UK for open-doors
• UK "open-door" policy may not apply to Romania and Bulgaria
• European Union approves Bulgaria and Romania for 01 January 2007
• Profile of new EU-27 nation, Bulgaria
• Profile of new EU-27 nation, Romania