On 18 March I reported on the changes to the immigration laws and how these changes could affect the entry of sheep shearers from overseas into the UK. Here is an update on the situation.
The National Association of Agricultural Contractors is the body which represents contractors in the UK. Jill Hewitt, Chief Executive of the NAAC is quoted as saying: 'We are working closely with shearing contractors in the UK, and shearing associations in New Zealand and Australia, to try and ensure the smooth passage of sheep shearers to the UK this spring. There is no reason, with the transitional arrangements in place, to expect that there will be any problems this season.' It would appear for this year at least the much needed overseas shearers will be allowed to enter the country.
Chris Harrington, the Communications Manager for the British High Commission in New Zealand reported: ‘The British Government has decided that the shearers will be admitted on a concessionary basis outside the Immigration Rules. They will not need a visa prior to travel but will have to satisfy an immigration officer when they arrive in Britain that they have jobs as shearers.’ Under the concessionary arrangements the shearers are restricted to a stay of no longer than three months in the UK. This seems fair enough as the arrangement means shearers who are coming to do a real and difficult job will be allowed to enter the country shear the sheep then move on.
To my amusement, I discovered both UK Visa Bureau and Radio New Zealand referred to Chris Harrington’s statement using the expression shearers ‘must prove to a British immigration officer that they are genuine shearers.’ Who else would have in their luggage a handpiece weighing over a kilo and a collection of combs and cutters?
However the question remains – what will happen next year?