Employers of individuals working within a 12 nautical mile radius of the UK coastline must guarantee the presence of valid UK right-to-work documentation. Furthermore, they may have a duty to notify the Home Office about their employees’ entry to and exit from UK waters. All individual workers working within this 12-nautical mile zone must have a visa unless they possess British or Irish citizenship. Furthermore, they are also accountable for fulfilling the stipulated notification obligations.

Within this article, we present a comprehensive outline of the prerequisites that demand attention when hiring offshore personnel in the waters surrounding the United Kingdom.

What constitutes an offshore worker?

An offshore worker refers to an individual who begins work in the waters of the United Kingdom without having entered the UK previously.

“UK waters” refer to the territorial sea of the United Kingdom, encompassing the area within a 12 nautical mile radius from the UK landmass, as well as any additional waters falling within the outer boundaries of this territorial sea. Admiralty maps establish the geographical contours of the UK landmass, considering geographical elements like sandbanks. Consequently, this delineation might result in an extension of the 12 nautical mile distance beyond initial expectations.

A foreign national who is neither a citizen of the United Kingdom nor Ireland does not need to hold a UK visa for employment on a stable installation, such as an offshore oil rig located on a continental shelf beyond the 12 nautical mile boundary. Nonetheless, they must obtain authorization for periods of shore leave within the UK.

When is the UK immigration authorization necessary for an offshore worker to engage in employment?

Unless the offshore worker is a British or Irish citizen, they must possess appropriate UK immigration authorization, which grants them the right to engage in the specific job they intend to undertake within the waters of the United Kingdom.

What types of immigration authorization could be suitable for offshore personnel?

An offshore worker might possess or qualify to seek permission by the Immigration Rules, which grant them the right to work in the designated role they are set to undertake. This could potentially fall under categories such as the family route.

They might necessitate sponsorship through a work pathway, such as the Skilled Worker or Senior or Specialist Worker route.

A seafarer employed on a vessel within UK waters can function as a visitor, provided that they engage in a legitimate international voyage involving the transportation of goods or passengers and meet specific predefined criteria.

An acknowledged exception applies to offshore cargo vessel personnel. However, a prior exemption for offshore wind employees was rescinded on May 23, 2023. As a result, these workers are now required to seek authorization by the Immigration Rules.

What are the stipulated notification obligations for offshore employees?

Starting from April 12, 2023, an offshore worker must inform the Home Office about their initial arrival date in UK waters, as well as the date of departure. This notification should be submitted not before the actual event date and no later than 10 working days afterwards.

When the worker holds sponsorship, the sponsoring entity must make notifications at the beginning and end of the job for which they sponsor the worker. Conversely, if the individual lacks sponsorship, they must personally submit notifications each time they physically enter and exit.

The Home Office’s guidance, specifically designed for offshore workers, provides the instructions for submitting these notifications.

What factors should employers of offshore personnel take into account?

Several factors that employers should take into account encompass the following:

  • Confirming the presence of an appropriate sponsor license if the anticipation is that sponsorship will be necessary for offshore workforce members.
  • Evaluating each offshore worker is necessary to determine whether their current immigration permission enables them to work, or if they require sponsored immigration or other authorization.
  • Allocating resources for the expenses related to securing immigration permission for sponsored personnel, factored into the operational budget for offshore projects, including bidding processes.
  • Taking into account the physical location of the crew, ensuring adherence to any location-specific requirements when applying for immigration permission.
  • Engaging in proactive planning to allow ample time for the processing of immigration applications well in advance of the commencement of work.

Navigating the immigration prerequisites for offshore workers may require careful consideration and evaluation on an individual basis.

Title: Navigating UK Visa Requirements: A Guide for Offshore Workers

Description: Discover the UK visa requirements for offshore workers in our comprehensive guide. Learn about visa types, application procedures and tips.