Immigration skilled worker sponsor licence for fishing industry in the UK

Immigration Sponsor licence can be obtained by fishing & seafood industry businesses to employ foreign overseas deckhands and trawler skippers on Skilled Worker in the UK.  The skilled worker sponsor licence will assist the businesses struggling with the local staff shortages to fill the deckhand and trawler skipper vacancies. Due to the recent changes to UK immigration rules, transit visas are no longer permitted when in the UK waters.

Once the sponsor licence is granted to your business by the UK Home Office, your licence is valid for 4 years and it will give you the authority to employ overseas workers on work visas  at your business. You will be able to  renew your sponsor licence for further 4-year duration each time, for as long as you need it.

There is no limit on how many overseas migrant workers you can employ on Skilled Worker as long as the job roles are genuinely required by your business. This is called the ‘genuine vacancy test‘. In a nutshell, the jobs must be needed by your business for its operations, and not just created to facilitate the entry of foreign nationals to the UK. The Home Office provides their guidance on the Test in their sponsor guidance.

How to get a sponsor licence for fishing & seafood business

STAFF SHORTAGES IN THE UK fishing & seafood SECTOR

Staff shortages are considered as one of the main problems faced by the fishing & seafood sector in the UK. According to the press articles labour has become an increased problem following Brexit. The problems increased further due to the Nationality & Borders Act 2022 which means that transit visa can no longer be used for fishers working in UK waters. You may want to read our article on the immigration changes for fishing industry.

WHAT KEY REQUIREMENTS YOUR BUSINESS HAS TO MEET WHEN APPLYING FOR A SPONSOR LICENCE

There are some requirements that UK businesses have to meet when applying for a skilled worker sponsor licence. We list these key requirements below for your reference:

  • Already have trading presence and operate lawfully in the UK.
  • Have relevant HR systems and procedures in place (we will guide you on this).
  • Be honest, dependable and reliable (e.g. have HMRC/Tax, company affairs in good order and your Office Holders and Key Personnel must not have criminal offences and/or immigration offences on their record).
  • Have at least one employee or Director who is ‘settled’ in the UK to fill the Key Personnel roles for your sponsor licence application.  
  • Be able to offer skilled jobs at the NQF Level 3 or above (the job must be skilled to at least level 3 NQF). The qualifying jobs are listed in the Immigration Rules Appendix Skilled Occupations. Further below we list the fishing industry jobs that are meeting the skill level for the Skilled Worker work visa.
  • Be able to pay the minimum salary. Please see below for more details.

MINIMUM SALARY AND GENUINE VACANCY TEST FOR SPONSOR LICENCE 

To meet the requirements for sponsor licence and work visa, you need to pay at least the minimum salary required for skilled worker visa. The key requirements are as follows:

  • Be able to pay the minimum salary required for the Skilled Worker visa (the minimum is normally not less than £26,200 gross per year OR the minimum for a particular job role, whichever of the two is higher. We recommend that you to read our other article on the minimum salary for Skilled Worker visa. PLEASE NOTE: The minimum salary is due to increase from 4th April 2024 to £38,700 per year. This is a significant change to the salary requirement.
  • Regarding minimum salary, please note that from 7/08/2023 the Deckhand and Trawler Skipper jobs will be added to Shortage Occupation List and therefore will have minimum salary of £20,960 per year. We write about this update to Shortage Occupation List in our article on the Skilled Worker update 17/07/2023.
  • The Genuine vacancy test must be met. The jobs that you intend to offer to migrant workers must be genuinely required by your fishing business (i.e. those jobs are needed for your company’s operations and the jobs are not just created to facilitate the migrant’s entry to the UK) s the job must meet all the skilled worker visa requirements, including the minimum pay.

WHAT IS THE COST OF SPONSOR LICENCE AND WORK VISAS

The current application fee for sponsor licence is £536 for small sponsors or charities and £1,476 for other sponsors. There is an extra £500 fee if you decide to use the expedited processing.

The skilled worker visa shortage occupation is £479 and NHS Surcharge is £1,872, for 3-year visa. We prepared application fee calculator that will help you in understanding what fees you will have to pay.

The UK Government has recently announced changes to the visa fees and NHS Surcharge. You may want to read more about this in our article on the changes to Home Office fees.

FISHING JOBS ADDED TO SHORTAGE OCCUPATION LIST FOR SKILLED WORKERS

The below jobs will be added to the Shortage Occupation List on 7th August 2023. To support the fishing industry in becoming fully compliant with the immigration system following the implementation of Section 43 of the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, jobs in the fishing industry in the following occupations are also being added to the Shortage Occupation List:

• 5119 Agriculture and fishing trades not elsewhere classified (only fishing jobs added)

• 9119 Fishing and other elementary agriculture occupations not elsewhere classified.

WHAT FISHING JOBS QUALIFY FOR UK WORK VISA – DECKHAND AND SKIPPER

Examples of the jobs that qualify for UK Skilled Worker work visa are listed below. This will give you an idea what jobs are accepted for the Skilled Worker work visa. The complete list of jobs is available in the Home Office Appendix Skilled Occupations.

1213 Managers and proprietors in forestry, fishing and related services• Cattery owner
• Forest manager
• Racehorse trainer
5119 Agricultural and fishing trades not elsewhere classified• Aboricultural consultant
• Bee farmer
• Gamekeeper
• Share fisherman
• Trawler skipper
• Tree surgeon
9119 Fishing and other elementary agriculture occupations not elsewhere classified – ONLY the listed job titles are eligible in this occupation code and ONLY where the job requires the worker to have at least 3 years’ full-time experience in using their skills. This experience must not have been gained through working illegally.• Vent chick sexer
• Deckhand on large fishing vessel (9 metres and above)

OCCUPATION CODES THAT ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR THE SKILLED WORKER

Some jobs (occupations) are specifically listed by the UK Home Office as not skilled enough for sponsored work visas. The minimum skill level required for Skilled Worker visa is NQF Level 3. The jobs that do not qualify for UK sponsored work visas in the fishing & seafood industry are listed below and for complete up to date list please always check Appendix Skilled Occupations.

9119 Fishing and other elementary agriculture occupations notelsewhere classified – all jobs not listed in Table 1• Horticultural worker
• Labourer (landscape gardening)
• Mushroom picker
• Nursery worker
Fishing jobs excluded from skilled worker visa