UK Visas in the Maritime Sector  

December 1, 2023
Anivaldo Esquelino


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The UK’s maritime waters are made up of businesses in different sectors, such as oil and gas, wind, fishing, and shipping. All of these companies demand a huge number of people to operate their businesses.

The workforce source in this industry is composed of a mix of employees/suppliers who are based in the UK and abroad, and the big challenge is to understand how to bring those skilled workers and/or suppliers from abroad to work in the UK whilst following the Immigration Rules.

In this case, the Immigration Rules will apply depending on if the individual is a visa national or non-visa national and where the work will take place.

Regarding the visa national and non-visa national, the Immigration Rules has an appendix listing national and citizens of certain countries who always need a visa to enter/transit in the UK. If your nationality is not on the visa national list, you are considered a non-visa national and you do not need to apply for a visa to enter/transit to the UK.

Regarding the place of work, if the worker is employed within the 12 nautical miles of the UK landmass, which is considered the ‘UK territorial waters’, a visa is needed, unless they are a British or Irish citizen.

If the work will be carried outside of UK territorial waters, workers are not subject to UK immigration control and therefore do not need a UK visa however there are still some immigration rules to be followed to enter the UK or to travel offshore to the UK continental shelf. Furthermore, there are specific rules for seafarers and crew members of vessels.

The Immigration requirements to work in the UK waters and offshore can be complex and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. We are experienced immigration advisers to businesses in this industry.

If you’d like to discuss this in more detail or find out how our team can help, please contact Anivaldo here.