In a surprising move, the UK government has announced that it will award 45,000 visas for seasonal workers in the agricultural sector next year. This decision has caught many political observers off guard, considering calls from within the ruling Conservative party to discourage and reduce immigration.
Despite Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s statement a day earlier that Britain should train its own lorry drivers and fruit pickers instead of relying on immigration, Downing Street has defended the decision to grant the visas.
According to a spokesman, the current rules provide flexibility to adjust the immigration system based on the needs of the UK, emphasizing that the country has a historically low unemployment rate.
The government’s announcement of the visa allocation coincides with a new package of measures to support the farming industry and assist farmers who have been struggling with soaring costs.
The British agriculture ecosystem has traditionally relied on workers from EU member states, but stricter immigration rules and Brexit have made it challenging to hire workers from the bloc. Despite this, the government is pushing forward with its agenda and promises to give farmers greater protections in future trade deals and prioritize new export opportunities.
However, while the government is announcing visas for seasonal agriculture workers, it is simultaneously exploring plans to prevent family members from joining foreign master’s students at UK universities.
The Department of Education, Home Office, and Treasury are currently discussing a proposal to restrict dependents from accompanying master’s students on one-year courses. If implemented, this plan would particularly affect students from India and Nigeria.