The new Points Based System – Skilled Worker Route became operational on 1st December 2020. At OTB Legal, we have been contacted by numerous restaurants and hospitality venues enquiring about sponsoring skilled chefs from abroad.
We therefore thought that it would be helpful to explain the changes brought in by the system in sponsoring skilled chefs from abroad.
Old Tier 2 (General) Route for chefs
The old route only allowed for skilled chefs to be sponsored where the following requirements were met:
- a salary of £29,570 per annum;
- five or more years relevant experience;
- job not to be in a fast food or standard fare outlet; and
- job to be in one of these roles; executive chef, head chef, sous chef and specialist chef.
The salary requirement of £29,570 made it an unrealistic prospect for most restaurants to sponsor skilled chefs from abroad given the competitive environment and low margins in this sector. The Migration Advisory Committee recently confirmed in their review of the shortage occupation list that in 2010 approximately 15% of all out of country certificates of sponsorship were used to sponsor migrants in a skilled chef role, this fell to around 5% in 2011 and then around or below 0.5% from each year onwards.
So what has changed?
The new Skilled Worker Route makes it less costly to recruit skilled chefs from abroad with the salary threshold being reduced from £29,570 to £25,600. This will be welcome news to a sector hit hard by the pandemic. In addition, the role/definition of a chef has been widened to include the following; chef, chef-manager, head-chef and pastry-chef. Aside from these requirements, anyone wishing to come to the UK as a skilled chef has to show that they have a job offer from a Home Office approved sponsor and speak English at an intermediate level (B1 CEFR Level) to be granted a Skilled Worker visa.
Becoming a Home Office approved sponsor for a skilled chef
Your business will need to apply for a sponsor licence in order to be able to sponsor a skilled chef. When granting you a sponsor licence, the Home Office places significant trust in you and with that comes direct responsibility to act in accordance with Home Office requirements. As a sponsor licence holder, you must undertake reporting and document keeping responsibilities that you need to be aware of. We recommend that businesses obtain legal advice before applying for a sponsor licence. Further, if your application is poorly prepared and refused, there is a cooling off period of 6 months which means that you will have to wait for 6 months to pass before you can reapply.
To find out more about applying for a sponsor licence to employ a skilled chef please see below to book a free consultation/chat with one of our expert lawyers in our Business Immigration Team.