Official: UK lorry driver visa scheme only open to European licence holders
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The UK Government has officially confirmed that its lorry driver visa scheme is only available to EU, EEA and Swiss licence holders. The news means recruiters will have to focus on drivers from Europe - despite the fact that most European truckers have said they are not interested in temporary work in the UK.
The details of the scheme have been outlined today on the UK Government’s website. It explains how temporary visas will be available for 5,500 poultry workers and 4,700 HGV food drivers.
According to the statement, HGV food drivers allocated visas through the scheme “must have an HGV licence recognised for use in the UK. The scheme applies to EU, EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Swiss licence holders only. They must hold a HGV (category C or C+E) licence.”
There is nonetheless no restriction for the poultry workers, who may be recruited from all around the world.
Visa applications for HGV food drivers under the temporary visa scheme must be submitted by December 1st. As mentioned previously on this site, the visas expire on February 28th 2022.
Recruiters who wish to use the scheme will have to go through one of four scheme operators:
According to the aforementioned statement, the visa application process may differ between operators.
Given that the UK Government had long talked about having its own post-Brexit immigration policy that was open to qualified persons from around the world, there was a belief that recruiters could have been permitted to hire drivers from non-EU and EEA nations. Indeed, the RHA’s Rod McKenzie has said on more than one occasion that the foreign drivers who could do a job in the UK need not necessarily come from Europe.
However, that has not turned out to be the case. One may presume this is due to issues with the comparative quality and standards of HGV licences in other countries, as well as the need to have a valid CPC.
The news will disappoint drivers from Africa and Asia, some of whom appeared to express interest in the scheme. It also remains to be seen how many European drivers will be attracted by the offer of temporary work in the UK.
Last week, the Association of Hungarian Road Carriers, the Lithuanian Carriers Association, and Transport and Logistics Poland, all told Trans.INFO that it is unlikely drivers from their respective countries would be interested in the scheme.
Edwin Atema of the Dutch FNV union, which represents lorry drivers in the Netherlands, put it more bluntly during a Radio 4 interview last week, warning Britain that “the EU workers we speak to will not go to the UK for a short term visa to help the UK out of the sh*t they created themselves.”