Government advised to relax chef visa rules

By Sophie Witts

- Last updated on GMT

Government advised to relax chef visa rules

Related tags Chefs brexit Restaurant Immigration

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has called for an end to restrictions preventing restaurants, pubs and hotels that offer a takeaway service from employing chefs from outside the EU.

The clause has been removed from the MAC’s recommendations on the shortage occupation list (SOL) as part of a major review.

The MAC, an independent body which advises the government, says the changes were in “recognition of the changing nature of the hospitality sector”.

The SOL permits non-EU staff to work in the UK in roles where there is a labour shortage. Chefs are ranked ‘fairly highly’ on the list with an above average number of vacancies but can only be employed in the UK if they earn at least £29,570 a year and have five or more years’ experience in a similar role.

Trade body UKHospitality welcomed the changes but says it is pushing for the government to deliver a more ‘coherent’ policy.

“Removing the punitive takeaway clause is a positive step and one we called for in our response earlier this year,” says UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls.

“This reflects the increasingly diverse nature of the UK’s culinary sector and the move to more app-based deliveries. It also helps restaurants that have recently struggled to fill vacancies, particularly those offering authentic Indian, Bangladeshi and Chinese food, among others.”

The government is currently consulting on​ ​introducing a similar £30,000 salary threshold for EU migrants wanting to work in the UK as part of a new ‘skills based’ immigration system.

Industry bodies have voiced concerns that such changes could leave hospitality businesses struggling for staff, with some calling for rules on employing people from outside the EU to be relaxed.

Nicholls says: “Any future immigration policy needs to be fit for purpose, beneficial to the UK economy, and allow our sector to grow and thrive. We will be making these points to Ministers and future leadership candidates in the coming weeks and months.”

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