13 Apr 2009

New visa laws delay sheep shearers going to UK

4:34 pm on 13 April 2009

New immigration rules making it harder for Australians and New Zealanders to work in Britain has caused a shortage of sheep shearers there.

In the past, about 500 professional shearers have gone to Britain each year. However, a new points-based system for skilled immigrants has meant long delays for shearers waiting for work visas to be approved.

Under the new system, applicants must have biometric details such as their fingerprints included on their work visas.

The National Association of Agricultural Contractors told The Mail on Sunday newspaper that it is taking up to nine weeks for some Australian and New Zealand shearers to get visas, instead of less than a month under the previous system. It says the situation is serious and critical.

Britain's national flock totals 25 million sheep.