UK offering

Photo: Stock/Canva

UK offering thousands of visas to ease its truck driver shortage – with South Africans high in demand

Thousands of visas have been made available by the UK government to foreign workers in response to the crisis around fuel shortages and empty shelves.

UK offering

Photo: Stock/Canva

The UK government is looking to make thousands of visas available to foreign workers in response to the escalating crisis around fuel shortages and empty supermarket shelves.


Nicola Digby, a senior consultant at specialist immigration firm Sable International, said applications would open in October 2021, and the visas will be available to truck drivers to come to the UK to work between October and December 2021.

“Workers of all nationalities are invited to apply, with the majority expected to come from the EU. Although exact criteria for the scheme have not yet been released, it is anticipated that the visas will form part of the T5 Temporary Worker category.” 

Click here to find out how to apply for a T5 Seasonal Worker visa

Digby said the government is also expected to make an additional 5,500 visas available for seasonal workers within the poultry industry.

“The Seasonal Worker visa (T5) is valid for six months and usually allows a person to come to the UK to work in the farming industry.”

To apply for this visa, you’ll need a certificate of sponsorship from a UK sponsor and enough money to support yourself in the UK, she said.

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“A Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) is an electronic document that contains a reference number which holds information about the job and your personal details. The company that has offered you the job will first need to obtain and issue you with your CoS before you can apply for your T5 visa. You must add your CoS reference number to your visa application.

“Your certificate is valid for three months from the date it is issued to you, so you will need to apply within this period.”

According to a report by BusinessTech South African truck drivers are in high demand internationally. 

Arnoux Mare, chief executive of Innovative Solutions Group, told RSG that this is not a new trend, with South Africans in demand for many years.

Mare’s company specialises in outsourcing work functions, including hiring logistics and drivers for companies, and he has also employed local drivers to work for international companies.

He said that local workers from South Africa are sought-after in countries including the US, all over Europe, and England.

While Mare could not give an exact figure on how many truck drivers are in employment abroad, he said that there is a clear shortage and demand.

Despite this, South Africa is still on the UK’s red list of countries not to travel to.

Earlier this week President Cyril Ramaphosa said he had a call with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to discuss this matter. I put South Africa’s case to him, which he understood very well.

“We both agreed that decisions of this nature should be informed by science and are hopeful of a positive outcome when the issue comes up for review in the coming days.”

The United Kingdom imposed a travel ban on South Africans by red listing our country.

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Ramaphosa said the red listing had put South Africa in a disadvantaged position since the United Kingdom is South Africa’s biggest source of tourism from the northern hemisphere and a significant trading partner.

“While UK scientists were concerned about the presence of the Beta variant in South Africa, the reality is that the Delta variant is now by far the dominant variant in the country.”