Philip Barth
Posted on 7 Jun 2022

Call for evidence: An inspection of the immigration system as it relates to the agricultural sector

The Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) has launched a call for evidence to inform an inspection of the immigration system as it relates to the agricultural sector. The ICIBI is interested in assessing the extent to which the Home Office's immigration functions support the agricultural sector and how they could be improved.

Who should respond to the call?

In particular those employing, or not being able to employ due to labour shortages, seasonal workers in the horticulture sector - which means those growing:

  1. Protected Vegetables – those grown in glasshouse systems; or
  2. Field Vegetables – those grown outdoors, including vegetables, herbs, leafy salads and potatoes; or
  3. Soft Fruit – those grown outdoors or under cover e.g. in glasshouses or polytunnels. Includes strawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, blueberries and all ribes and rubus species; or
  4. Top Fruit (Orchard Fruit) - trees that bear fruit e.g. apples, plums, cherries, apricots; or
  5. Vine and Bines – both twining or climbing flexible stems of certain plants, e.g. hops is a bine, and grapes is a vine; or
  6. Mushrooms – typically covers Agaricus bisporus species but can also include more exotic species (typically grown indoors); or
  7. Bulbs and cut flowers, such as daffodils, grown outdoors and indoors; or
  8. Pot plants, such as seasonal bedding plants like pansies, violas, germaniums and poinsettias; or
  9. Hardy ornamental nursery stock such as Christmas trees, shrubs, roses, ornamental trees and perennials; or
  10. Tree and forest nurseries.

Why is responding important and what should be included in the response?

This is an opportunity to give feedback about how the immigration system currently addresses shortages of seasonal workers. With some areas missing up to 75% of their seasonal workers, it has never been so important to have your voice heard. Your response will help influence the scope and focus of the inspection, which in turn can help drive policy development to ensure that the necessary changes are made.

Your responses can include comments on a variety of issues, but in particular the inspection is expected to examine the following areas:

  • the efficiency and effectiveness of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Pilot
  • the extent and quality of communication and engagement between the Home Office and the agricultural sector
  • the current suitability of the Home Office’s licencing system for visa sponsorship
  • the effectiveness of the Home Office’s compliance requirements on sponsors, including how these safeguard employees from exploitation

How can you respond and when?

Your responses all need to be submitted by 20 June 2022 via email to agriculture@icibi.gov.uk, with ‘Agricultural sector call for evidence’ in the subject line and the following consent statement in the body of your email: “I consent to the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration retaining and processing the information and data in this email.”

How can we help?

Whilst your response does not require any legal input, we have a strong Immigration Team who work alongside the Agriculture Team at Michelmores and can assist with any queries you may have when it comes to employing workers from abroad.