The government has updated its seasonal worker scheme guidance which includes a provision to allow returnee workers from 2022 to come back sooner in 2023.
Following NFU lobbying, farm workers can come back to the UK after five months rather than waiting the full six months from the end of their 2022 visa.
The union said it had been pushing for a visa rest in recognition of the impacts to recruitment that the Ukraine conflict had last season.
Announcing the move, Defra it would 'exceptionally permit' workers to re-enter the UK five months after their 2022 leave expired, rather than having to wait for the full six months cooling off period to elapse.
Defra added: "This is a ‘one-off re-set’ to enable workers to return at the beginning of the 2023 harvesting season and the normal rules will apply to any leave granted for 2024 onwards."
Responding, NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw said that while it was only a modest change, it was an important one.
"[It] will help growers this season and add further weight to our discussions over the length of visas within the scheme,” he said.
The update is a further improvement to the scheme following NFU lobbying, which secured a sizeable increase in the number of visas.