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Ukrainians on Seasonal Workers scheme need further protection

In light of the war in Ukraine, the UK government introduced a number of visa concessions. One of these relates to the Seasonal Workers scheme which enables overseas nationals to work temporarily in the UK in certain sectors such as fruit picking.

The concession introduced automatically extends the leave of any Ukrainian who already held Seasonal Worker leave and had either lawfully entered the UK prior to 24 February 2022 or had applied for their visa by that date and subsequently entered the UK. At the moment their leave is only extended until 31 December 2022.

This is as far as the concession goes though. Ukrainian nationals who hold Seasonal Worker leave cannot sponsor their immediate or extended family members (including their children) under the Ukraine Family scheme. Furthermore, they cannot be sponsored under the Homes for Ukraine scheme as these applications must currently be submitted from overseas.

This isn't good enough and more needs to be done to help protect them and their family members still in Ukraine.

Ukrainians made up by far the largest proportion of workers in the UK on seasonal worker visas in 2021. Of the 29,631 visas issued under the T5 seasonal work scheme, 19,920 – 67% – were given to Ukrainians. The Scottish Refugee Council estimates that there are up to 6,000 in the UK. While the government has announced two schemes to allow Ukrainians to come to the UK – the family visa scheme and the community sponsorship scheme – Ukrainian farm workers who are here on six-month visas do not qualify for either.