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UK SBS programme to be extended

The Home Office has announced that the Sectors Based Scheme (SBS) programmewill be extended for a further 12 months from 1 June 2004.

The quota was filled for the SBS Hospitality industry (hotel and cateringwork) on 31 March of this year, so currently no SBS work permit applicationscan be made for jobs in this sector. However, the quota for the FoodManufacturing industry part of the scheme (meat and fish processing andmushroom production only) was not filled and applications are continuing tobe accepted.

New applications for both SBS Hospitality and Food Manufacturing industrywork permits can be made from 1 June.

From 1 June 2004, the existing overall quota for the Sectors Based Schemewill be cut by 25 per cent. There will be a quota of 6,000 SBS permits forthe food processing sector and 9,000 SBS permits for the hospitality sector.These quotas will be released in two half-yearly stages.

A related programme, the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme (SAWS) willsee a 35% reduction on the current quota in 2005 to 16,250 places.

The Home Office will also introduce measures intending to ensure thatapplicants participating in these schemes will leave the United Kingdom whentheir work permits expire. Country-specific quotas will be introduced withinthe overall quotas. Country-specific quotas will only be made availablewhere the Home Office is certain that the source country will accept theirnationals back if they are found to be in the UK illegally.

The Home Office Minister has announced that these reductions are based onthe level of take-up of these schemes by EU accession country nationals,prior to joining the EU on 1 May.