UK Government eases entry for NZ and Australian shearers

New Zealand and Australian shearers will be accelerated through the immigration system, helping to avoid the "unnecessary suffering" of millions of sheep in the UK.

Last week, the UK's National Association of Agricultural Contractors chief executive Jill Hewitt said there was a "ludicrous situation" where red tape, under new immigration rules, was preventing shearers from coming to do short-term and essential work.

In a statement sent to the Otago Daily Times yesterday, Ms Hewitt said the situation had been resolved through the efforts of the NAAC, sheep industry and UK Government.

The Home Office and Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs had taken "exceptional steps" to bring in the vital workforce by speeding up processing times in Australia and New Zealand from 12 weeks to a maximum of three weeks.

That should get some shearers into the UK ready for the start of the shearing season, she said.

Those shearers already working in the United States and Europe would also be given a special concession to allow them to gain entry clearance without returning to their country of residence.

"We cannot underestimate the importance of these decisions," Ms Hewitt said.

An estimated 500 shearers usually came to the the UK from overseas, and shear about 20% to 25% of the national flock - a total of 5 to 6 million sheep each year.

"Without these shearers, we risk serious animal health problems with fly strike which, in the worst cases, may result in death," she said.

The NAAC would now be in contact with New Zealand and Australia to ensure the message was out that UK doors were "finally open" to shearers and applications for clearance needed to be made with urgency.

 

 

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