In 2017, the Home Office introduced a visa concession, known as the Offshore Wind Worker Concession (OWWC). Since its inception, the time-limited concession has been extended a number of times to continue to allow overseas employees, involved in the construction or maintenance of offshore wind farms, to work without needing to apply for a work visa under the “immigration rules”.
In a previous statement from June 2022, the Home Office indicated that the concession would not be renewed again… but, in a dramatic and last-minute U-turn, on 31 October 2022, the Home Office announced a further extension of the concession until 30 April 2023.
The concession’s current terms can be found on the gov.uk site:
This latest update means that Companies that operate vessels within the UK’s 12-mile nautical radius can continue to recruit (skilled and unskilled) vessel crew to work on the construction and maintenance of offshore wind farms under the OWWC, but not beyond the new deadline of 30 April 2023.
All employees entering the UK under the concession will need to be issued with a letter (from their employer) confirming their qualifying employment on the wind farm. Visa nationals will need to apply for entry clearance (prior permission to enter under the concession), if they do not hold an eligible Seaman’s Book. Entry clearance officers will consider if the worker falls under the “general grounds for refusal”, so if the employee has a negative immigration history or personal history (for example previous UK overstaying or criminal convictions) this could lead to a refusal of the application.
Employees who are required to work beyond the concession end date of 30 April 2023 will need to apply for UK work visas. Most employees will need to apply under the “Skilled Worker” route. To be able to employ someone under the Skilled Worker route, the employer must hold a valid sponsor licence. As sponsor licence applications take around 8 weeks to be processed, it is wise to apply for a licence in good time, so that the business is fully ready and capable to sponsor workers, should the concession not be extended again in April 2023.
If you are an employer in the Offshore industry or are interested in applying for a sponsor licence, contact A Y J Solicitors for support.
A Y & J Solicitors is a specialist immigration law firm. We have an in-depth understanding of immigration law and are professional and results-focused. For assistance with your sponsorship or any other UK immigration law concerns, please contact us on +020 8038 4319 or at [email protected] today. We’re here to help!