This is a trial scheme for a limited number of non-EU workers seeking short term employment in various agricultural industries. This is currently a very limited pilot confined to 2,500 applicants, and at the date of writing it appears that most or all of the places have been filled (but there will be plenty of applications as yet not made).
However, if successful, the scheme is likely to be extended and may well become very attractive to a number of clients seeking a short term means of entering the UK. If the scheme is successful it is also likely, in the future, to be extended to religious, charitable, and domestic worker sectors.
This is not a long-term means of entering the UK. The leave to remain will be for a maximum of 3 months and can only be renewed for a maximum of 6 months in any given 12. It does not lead to settlement. Work will be confined to employment by the Sponsor and there will be no access to public funds. It will, however, no doubt be very attractive to a number of applicants.
The rules are set out at paragraph 245ZO of the Immigration Rules.
The Applicant must obtain and hold a current, valid Certificate of Sponsorship issued by one of the currently two licenced sponsors- Concordia (UK) Ltd or Pro-Force Limited. If the pilot becomes a more permanent scheme, that list is likely to be increased.
There are a number of technical requirements which the Certificate is required to meet but this will in almost all cases be a matter for the sponsor and of little practical interest to the applicant. However, if the scheme expands substantially to include a large number of new sponsors, poorly issued Certificates may well become an issue for less experienced sponsors- this was certainly the experience of the Tier 2 scheme.
Unless the sponsor has taken financial responsibility for the applicant in the Certificate, the applicant must have had £945 for at least three months before the application ending not less than one month beforehand.
There must be no “general grounds for refusal”, e.g. a significant criminal record or a history of deception- see Part 9 of the Immigration Rules.
The applicant must normally be over 18 or can be under 18 with parental consent in certain limited circumstances.