Offshore contractors raise concerns over new immigration rules

The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) has warned that a short term deal allowing foreign seafarers to enter the UK on their way to join offshore wind vessels will not solve the problems caused by a recent change in immigration law.

The IMCA said it welcomed the short term concession made by the Home Office earlier this month, which allowed the employment of non-European Economic Area nationals who are joining vessels engaged in the construction and maintenance of offshore wind projects in UK territorial waters.

However, IMCA said that the short-term concession made by the Home Office over immigration control over such seafarers, which will resume after 21 October 2017, is a deviation from decades of common practice and is causing real operational difficulties.

The IMCA urged the Home Office to work with the offshore industry so that the application of the legal framework relating to seafarers could be introduced “without risk of damaging key projects that are critical to delivering renewable energy capacity in the UK”.

The association said: “The success of such projects are schedule, technology, and safety dependent, and a tapered adoption of the new approach to immigration rules would be welcome in order to give industry certainty and stability in planning future investments.”

The term’s of the Home Office’s concession are as follows:

The terms of the concession are set out below:
 The Home Office have agreed to grant a concession, outside of the Immigration Rules, to workers essential to the construction and maintenance of wind farms within UK territorial waters.
 The concession will allow workers leave to enter the UK until 21 October 2017 for the purpose of joining a vessel engaged in the construction and maintenance of a wind farm within UK territorial waters.
 Leave to enter under the terms of the concession will no longer be granted after 21 October 2017. During this period, firms involved in the construction or maintenance of wind farms within territorial waters should look to regularise the position of their workers. British and EEA (European Economic Area) nationals do not require leave to enter the UK. Those who require leave to enter the UK should have the appropriate permission to do so under the Immigration Rules.
 In order to qualify for this concession and maintain border security, workers who are seeking leave to enter the UK should produce at point of entry: a valid passport; an ILO108-compliant or ILO185-compliant seamen’s book; and a letter from their employer stating that the worker is employed in the construction or maintenance of a wind farm project within territorial waters.

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