05/10/2021

FAQs – New concession for fuel tanker drivers

After announcing new temporary visas for HGV drivers and poultry workers, the UK Government has clarified how this will apply to HGV fuel tanker drivers who want to come to the UK between 1–15 October 2021 for temporary work. Alex Christen and Aisling Beevers sum up what we know so far.

What is the effect of this temporary route?

This temporary route will grant leave to 300 non-visa nationals entering the UK as HGV fuel tanker drivers between 1–15 October 2021, allowing them to work in the UK on a temporary basis.

Who can enter the UK under this route?

To be considered for this route, drivers must:

  • Be a non-visa national (i.e. they must not already have a visa allowing them to work in the UK)
  • Hold an EU, EEA or Swiss licence to drive HGV fuel tankers
  • Have an endorsement letter
  • Arrive in the UK between 1 – 15 October 2021 with a view to working as a fuel tanker driver
  • Have a valid national passport

Satisfaction of this eligibility criteria does not automatically mean permission will be granted. Border Force will also assess whether there are genuine intentions to enter the UK as an HGV fuel tanker driver and intention to leave at the end of the period. Consideration will also be given to the financial status of the individual and their ability to accommodate themselves without recourse to public funds. Aside from these factors, Border Force may also rely on other grounds of refusal under the Immigration Rules, such as criminal convictions or anything non-conducive to the public good, to refuse entry.

What is a HGV fuel driver endorsement letter?

These letters are issued by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and confirm that the individual has been approved to work under this concession. To receive this approval, checks will be carried out with the individual’s employer, as well as an investigation into qualifications and intended UK employment.

It is noted that if permission is granted, this is conditional on the individual working as a fuel tanker driver for a specified employer.  This means that individuals under this scheme are not permitted to carry out any other work whilst in the UK.

How long will this concession operate?

The current government information states that HGV drivers entering the UK in this way are permitted to work in the UK as a fuel tanker driver until 31st March 2022.

Once permission is granted, can an individual leave and enter the UK freely until 31st March 2022?

Any permission to enter the UK expires on departure. If an individual wishes to re-enter the UK before 31st March 2022, they must present the same documentation they needed for their initial arrival in order to be granted permission again.

How does this fit with the other temporary visas announced last week?

We are still waiting for full details but so far the government has amended its announcement last week and confirmed that:

  • 4,700 temporary visas will become available for food haulage drivers to enter the UK by late October, allowing them to stay in the UK until end February 2022, and
  • 5,500 visas will become available for poultry workers to enter the UK by late October, allowing them to stay in the UK until New Year’s Eve.

Has here been any take up of this new visa?

A report claims only 27 applications for the visa have been received (although the PM disputed this claiming 127 applications had been received). It seems there is little interest in the visa from HGV drivers which could potentially make the crisis worse and there are already reports of the impact on Christmas shopping. It is reported that the Government may have to make the visa more attractive to appeal to drivers outside the UK.

How we can help

It remains to be seen whether the Government will make more concessions in the short term but it seems inevitable if the crisis worsens. In this context, it’s essential that employers stay up to date with the latest regulations and make sure they carry out the appropriate “right to work” checks – or else they could accidentally hire someone illegally. Whether you need more information on the various visa routes available, or advice on how to conduct checks correctly, we can help. Drop us a line at (a.christen@capitallaw.co.uk) for an initial chat.