A temporary concession first introduced to the Immigration Rules in 2017, to allow the employment of overseas nationals joining vessels involved in the construction and maintenance of offshore wind farm projects in UK territorial waters, without the need to obtain a work visa, will now end on 30 April 2023. The further extension was announced on 31 October 2022, the day the concession had been due to end. 

We provide a brief guide for employers about the changes and the potential options to consider from 1 May 2023.

What did the concession allow?

This concession allowed certain foreign nationals to come to the UK (without the need for any kind of visa in advance), if they were undertaking certain permitted work on vessels engaged in the construction and maintenance of a wind farm within UK territorial waters. 

However, individuals from certain countries (known as 'visa nationals') still needed to obtain a 'transit visa' in advance of travel to the UK if they wanted to use the concession, but this was much more straightforward than obtaining a work visa.

When the concession ends, all non-British and non-Irish nationals coming to work in the UK (including on windfarms) will need a work visa or other permission to work in the UK before they begin work.

What are your options from 1 May 2023?

If you have used the concession over the past few years, it is important to ensure that any critical workers have the appropriate visa permission in place to continue doing the work.

There are various options that may be open to individuals to work in the UK, depending on their role and their personal circumstances:

Skilled Worker route

This route could be an option, but it will be dependent on whether:

  • your business has or could obtain a UK sponsor licence
  • the job is a medium or highly skilled role, which meets the minimum salary threshold
  • the individual can meet the English language requirements.

Global Business Mobility routes

There are numerous options under this route which may be relevant, including one for certain eligible contractual service suppliers and senior and specialist workers from overseas group companies. Again, a sponsor licence is required for these routes and only certain highly skilled roles are eligible. However, there is no English language requirement, which can be an advantage.

Frontier Worker Permits

This route only applies to those EEA/Swiss nationals who were engaged in employment or self-employment in the UK before the Brexit transition period. In addition, those individuals must normally have continued to come to the UK for work or self-employment on a regular basis (usually at least once a year) since.

Visitor rules

Individuals who cannot easily obtain permission to work, can carry out brief visits to the UK and undertake certain business activities under various sections of the visitor rules. Some individuals may need to obtain a visitor visa in advance.

Depending on the circumstances, under the visitor rules, individuals who are employees of overseas companies may be able to rely on:

  • Manufacturing and Supply of Goods provisions: which allow them to undertake certain installation, repair and training services on machinery or certain equipment where there is a contract of purchase, supply or lease with a UK company or organisation; or
  • Intra-Corporate Activities provisions: which allow them to advise, consult, trouble-shoot, provide training, or share skills and knowledge on specific internal projects with UK employees of the same corporate group (but no work can be done with clients).

There may also be other potential options under the visitor rules, depending on the circumstances, but you should ensure that you take appropriate advice if you are unsure on the options open to staff coming to the UK following the end of the concession.

On-demand webinar: Visa routes after the offshore wind concession ends

You can watch our on-demand webinar recording from 26 January 2023. During the session Elaine McIlroy and Erin McLafferty outlined the impact of the change for employers in the sector and alternative visa routes including:

  • Frontier Worker permits
  • the Skilled Worker route
  • the Global Business Mobility Supplier route; and
  • what is permitted under the business visit rules.

More information

You can also read our latest update blog here, confirming the 30 April 2023 end date and highlighting the notification requirements which have been announced by the Home Office in the lead up to the concession ending.

    This blog is accurate as of the date it was written, but it is only intended as a brief guide, and it is not intended as legal advice. You can find more information on the UK Government website. If you have specific queries about the end of the concession or the impact it may have on your workforce, please get in contact with our Employment & Immigration team or your usual Brodies contact. 


      Erin McLafferty


      Gregor Craig-Murphy

      Senior Solicitor