AUSTRALIAN and New Zealand shearers will continue to be welcome in the United Kingdom this year despite immigration being a high profile issue in Brexit discussions.
The peak UK body, the National Association of Agricultural Contractors, last week announced that overseas shearers will be allowed to enter the UK this year, in a time-limited window, to help shear the UK flock this summer.
The NAAC said a special Home Office concession will continue to allow the very specific group of non-visa nationals to travel to the UK, particularly coming from Australia and New Zealand, between April 1 and June 30.
All those entering will only be allowed to stay for a three month maximum period (i.e. the latest expiry of leave would be 30 September), after which they are required to leave.
NAAC technical consultant Jill Hewitt the association has continued to work with the Home Office and is pleased UK shearing contractors can continue to access shearing expertise from across the world.
“We don’t have sufficient UK shears to tackle the mammoth task of shearing the UK flock and it is vital for animal welfare that fleeces are removed to protect sheep from over-heating and flystrike.”
Australian and New Zealand shearers have been working “under the radar” in the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries for years, and Ms Hewitt told Sheep Central overseas shearers have been allowed to enter the UK in various immigration schemes over the years.
“However, the concession we currently have is on a rolling annual review and with the Brexit and high profile immigration issues in the UK, we were not certain of the scheme rolling forward.
“We need to make sure overseas shears know they are welcome as we have seen old social media posts being shared giving different messages.”
Ms Hewitt said it is estimated that at least a quarter of the United Kingdom’s sheep are shorn by gangs of shearers from New Zealand and Australia.
“There are shearing training courses in the UK, but the vast majority of these will shear small number of sheep.
“The overseas shearers are critical as they are highly skilled, can put through the numbers and many of them are shearing year round.”
Shearers are paid about £1 or about A$1.83 to shear a sheep in the UK.
Shearers arriving in the UK in coming weeks will need to satisfy an immigration officer they are here, for a temporary period, to be employed as a sheep shearer. The NAAC is supplying its members with the necessary paperwork to hopefully smooth the entry process.’
Specific entry requirements include:
- The applicant is genuinely seeking entry for the purpose of undertaking employment, or providing services, as a sheep shearer, and must supply an appropriate contract of employment and
- The applicant will be able to maintain and accommodate himself without recourse to public funds, and
- The applicant will leave the UK at the end of their stay, and
- The applicant arrives in the UK for this purpose between April 1 and June 30.