Immigration rules shift set to hit driver recruitment

Coach and bus driving will not be eligible for the government’s new points-based visa and immigration rules. That means operators will be unable to recruit EU migrants that arrive in the UK from 1 January 2021 onwards for those positions.

The system was unveiled by Home Secretary Priti Patel last week. Under the migration rules that will apply at the end of the transitionary period following the UK’s departure from the EU, the government will not offer a visa option for low-skilled migrant workers.

Line in the sand drawn for EU immigration

“The new rules will effectively exclude migrants arriving from 1 January 2021 onwards from taking work as coach or bus drivers,” says Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) Operations Director Keith McNally.

“The points-based visa and immigration system is for skilled jobs, and coach and bus driving is not regarded by the government as a skilled occupation.”

Ms Patel says the rules mean that businesses will “need to adapt and adjust to the end of free movement.” She adds that “the government will not seek to recreate the outcomes of free movement within the points-based system.”

Existing EU migrants already in the UK, and those who arrive between now and the end of the year, can apply for settled or pre-settled status. Obtaining that is necessary for them to continue to live and work here after 30 June 2021. Citizens Advice recommends that applications are made now.

Change of approach difficult without evidence

Mr McNally adds that CPT continues to highlight the importance of coach and bus driving roles to the government.

The Migration Advisory Committee, which advises the government, bases its advice on evidence. Mr McNally says that gathering the right kind of evidence in the coach and bus sector can be challenging.

“The industry almost always covers all of the work it has, but it has traditionally relied on workers from overseas to help it to fill vacancies.”