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Emergency Lorry Driver Visas Will Be Extended After Government U-Turn On Deadline

2 min read

The emergency visas the UK government is offering to European workers to help abate labour shortages will now last beyond the originally proposed deadline of 24 December.

Last week the government announced that 5,000 lorry drivers and 5,500 poultry workers will be able to take up roles in the UK between 1 October and 24 December.

However, PoliticsHome understands that the Home Office will extend the time frame for visas beyond Christmas Eve, with some lasting into early 2022.

Poultry workers will be allowed to remain in the UK until 31 December, while HGV visas will last until 28 February.

The new visa scheme, designed to tackle ongoing disruption to supply chains, has been viewed as a major U-turn, with ministers previously insisting that they would not relax immigration rules in response to the crisis.

It is understood that from mid-October the Home Office will begin processing visas and by early November, European workers will start to arrive in the UK.

Industry groups have previously expressed their concern about how short the scheme will last in practice in meetings with government. 

During Labour’s Party Conference in Brighton this week, leader Keir Starmer called on the government to extend the scheme to six months, describing the former Christmas eve deadline as not "long enough".

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.

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