We respond to ICIBI call for evidence on immigration

24 June 2022

An image of workers packing strawberries

The ICIBI (Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration) is an independent monitoring body of the Home Office. We've responded to its call for evidence on how the UK immigration system affects the agricultural sector.

20 June 2022

NFU submits evidence

The deadline for submitting evidence to inform the inspection was 20 June 2022.

We submitted evidence showing how a combination of unparalleled challenges (Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukraine crisis) have contributed towards increased input costs, supply issues and the current labour crisis.

While acknowledging the continued efforts of the industry to increase domestic recruitment into agricultural roles, we provided evidence showing the key role of migrant labour within the sector.

NFU response

In our response we:

  • Highlighted concerns that the Skilled Worker Visa route continues to have limited applicability to many within the agricultural sector.
  • Called for an expansion of the Youth Mobility Scheme which would provide an opportunity for eligible individuals to come and live and work within the UK for up to two years.
  • Stressed that the industry needs to have the confidence that it can source the labour it needs to avoid the risk of scaling back production and limiting future investment.
  • Called for a seasonal worker scheme for the poultry sector.
  • Called for the Seasonal Worker Scheme to be expanded further into 2023 to reflect the drop in EUSS workers taking up seasonal jobs within the UK.
  • Emphasised the need for timely government announcements regarding the Seasonal Worker Visa Scheme and highlighted the impact that delays and uncertainty has had on the industry over recent years.

Overall perspective

It remains vitally important that all agricultural businesses can access the labour that they need.

While the industry is committed to continue its engagement with the domestic workforce there has to be an immigration policy that allows it to fill both seasonal and permanent roles.

23 May 2022

Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration opens call for evidence

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration opened its call for evidence to inform its Inspection of the immigration system as it relates to the agricultural sector on 23 May 2022.

Anyone with knowledge and experience of the interaction between the UK immigration system and the agricultural sector was encouraged to submit evidence.

The Independent Chief Inspector was interested in assessing the extent to which the Home Office’s immigration functions support the agricultural sector. The inspection adopted a broad perspective, examining areas including:

  • the efficiency and effectiveness of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Pilot

  • the extent and quality of communication and engagement between the Home Office and the agricultural sector

  • the current suitability of the Home Office’s licencing system for visa sponsorship

  • the effectiveness of the Home Office’s compliance requirements on sponsors, including how these safeguard employees from exploitation.

Feedback was invited on both what is working well and what could be improved.

Information received in response to the call for evidence will play an important part in defining the scope and focus of the inspection.

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  • 23 May 2022: The ICIBI (Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration) opened a call for evidence to assist in scoping its inspection of the Home Office immigration system relating to the agricultural sector.
  • 20 June 2022: The NFU submitted evidence.