Rigid Visa Guidelines “Inflicting Waves” for Offshore Wind Sector

A SCOTS lawfirm has spoken out to warn that strict new immigration necessities are deterring very important expert staff and threatening main disruption for UK offshore wind tasks.

Maria Gravelle, an immigration specialist at Pinsent Masons, claims that axing the Offshore Wind Employee Concession (OWWC) has left firms going through “extraordinarily advanced” guidelines ill-suited to the sector’s wants.

The OWWC beforehand allowed overseas nationwide staff to enter the UK for the aim of becoming a member of a vessel engaged within the development and upkeep of wind farms inside UK territorial waters.

Maria Gravelle has warned that immigration necessities will trigger disruption for wind tasks.

With the vast majority of offshore crews made up of non-British and Irish nationals, Gravelle cautions that recruiting appropriate employees has turn into extraordinarily tough for the reason that concession led to April 2023.

Regardless of lobbying by trade our bodies which predicted large disruption to the sector, the House Workplace is now requiring visas for any non-UK/Irish residents working inside 12 nautical miles of the shoreline.

However Gravelle explains the visa system relies towards individuals who work onshore Monday to Friday 9-5 – not the rotational working patterns generally discovered within the offshore sector.

She mentioned: “The knock-on results are important and had been predictable. Visas themselves might be extraordinarily pricey and the additional purple tape and administrative burden on employers is impacting on venture budgets, skewing tenders for brand spanking new developments and in some instances may even delay work scopes.

“Offshore staff coming into UK waters have an in depth vary of certifiable expertise and there’s a scarcity of the required certifications within the UK job market. These staff pose a low threat to UK immigration management as, for tax functions, they don’t wish to be based mostly within the UK long-term.”

Gravelle reveals that employers’ sponsoring prices can run into “1000’s of kilos per individual” in visa charges and different costs for staff – who might solely have to enter the UK for a number of weeks a 12 months on a selected venture.

There’s additionally a scarcity of readability on which employer or contractor within the provide chain ought to take duty for sponsorship and visa clearance when crews are contracted externally.

With offshore wind key to UK decarbonisation and net-zero targets, she insists tailor-made immigration preparations are urgently required to resolve the recruitment bottleneck.

One resolution could be to introduce a sector-specific immigration route, much like OWWC however extra everlasting. This has been performed earlier than in catering for particular teams in “scarcity” industries, comparable to poultry staff or HGV drivers.

She added: “With out an applicable repair, the UK will turn into more and more undesirable for expert offshore staff and their employers.”

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