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Spotlight on Hospitality – How to sponsor a Skilled Worker (May 2022 update)

Visas for Hospitality workers, chefs

10 second summary:

"The UK Hospitality sector is experiencing an acute skills shortage, largely due to the combined impacts of Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic. In this article we consider how hospitality businesses can sponsor non-UK workers to fill their vacant roles"

*****Editor’s note – This article was originally published in the summer of 2021, but has been updated in May 2022 with the latest salary data from 2021. Median salaries in the hospitality industry dropped, in some cases significantly, between 2020 and 2021. Our assessment is that this fall in wages does not indicate increased labour supply – we frequently talk to employers in this industry who are still finding it very difficult to find the skills they need in the domestic labour market*****

Can you get a Skilled Worker visa for chefs and other hospitality workers?

***Scroll down for a full list of the hospitality jobs that qualify for sponsorship***

For the better past of the last decade, most hospitality roles have been off-limits when it comes to sponsoring migrant workers. Under the Tier 2 system, in place until December 2020, only roles skilled at RQF level 6 were eligible for sponsorship, with a notable exception for high paid, experienced chefs. This restriction meant that only the most senior management roles within hospitality were typically eligible for sponsorship.

But from December 2020, with the introduction of the Skilled Worker immigration route, this has all changed. The skills threshold has been lowered to RQF level 3, and for most hospitality jobs, the minimum salary threshold is now somewhere between £20,000 and £26,000.

It is now possible to sponsor migrant workers (this now includes EU citizens who are new to the UK) in a wider range of hospitality roles, including all chefs, restaurant managers, bar managers and floor managers.

What's the minimum salary to get a skilled worker visa for a chef?

One of the biggest changes in December 2020 was the relaxing of restrictions associated with sponsoring a chef. Previously, the salary requirements were very high, and applicants needed at least 5 years’ experience in order to qualify.

Now, in most cases, the minimum salary threshold is £25,600 per annum for roles of up to 48 hours* per week. Where the applicant qualifies as a New Entrant, for example if they are under 26, the minimum salary threshold is £20,480 per annum for roles of up to 39 hours* per week

*These salary thresholds go up as weekly hours increase above these figures.

The full list

As part of a sponsorship application, the job must be matched up to one of the official ‘Occupation Codes’, set out by the Office for National Statistics. Which code you match a job to determines its eligibility for sponsorship as well as the minimum salary needed to sponsor a Skilled Worker. We’ve outlined the main occupation codes for the hospitality sector below. Click for further details.

My Example Heading

My Other Example Heading

Hotel & accommodation managers

Eligible

Occupation Code: 1221

Example Job Titles

  • Caravan park owner
  • Hotel manager
  • Landlady (boarding, guest, lodging house)

Default min. salary threshold: £25,600

Min. salary threshold for a New Entrant: £20,480

Example Job Tasks

  • Analyses demand and decides on type, standard and cost of services to be offered;
  • Determines financial, staffing, material and other short and long-term needs;
  • Ensures physical comfort of residents or passengers and makes special arrangements for children, the elderly and the infirm if required;
  • Arranges for payment of bills, keeps accounts and ensures adherence to licensing and other statutory regulations.
How do these thresholds compare with average earnings for this code?

Restaurant and catering establishment managers and proprietors

Eligible

Occupation Code: 1223

Example Job Titles

  • Café owner
  • Fish & chip shopkeeper
  • Operations manager (catering)
  • Restaurant manager
  • Shop manager (take-away food shop)

Default min. salary threshold: £25,600

Min. salary threshold for a New Entrant: £20,480

Example Job Tasks

  • Plans catering services and directs staff;
  • Decides on range and quality of meals and beverages to be provided;
  • Discusses customer’s requirements for special occasions;
  • Purchases or directs the purchasing of supplies and arranges for preparation of accounts;
  • Verifies that quality of food, beverages and waiting service is as required, that kitchen and dining areas are kept clean and appropriate hygiene standards are maintained in compliance with statutory requirements;
  • Plans and arranges food preparation in collaboration with other staff and organises the provision of waiting or counter staff;
  • Checks that supplies are properly used and accounted for to prevent wastage and loss and to keep within budget limit;
  • Determines staffing, financial, material and other short- and long-term requirements.
How do these thresholds compare with average earnings for this code?

Publicans and managers of licensed premises

Eligible

Occupation Code: 1224

Example Job Titles

  • Landlady (public house)
  • Licensee
  • Manager (wine bar)
  • Publican

Default min. salary threshold: £25,600

Min. salary threshold for a New Entrant: £20,480

Example Job Tasks

  • Arranges purchase of alcoholic and other beverages, bar snacks, cigarettes and other items and ensures that stocks are stored in proper conditions;
  • Supervises bar, kitchen and cleaning staff and, if necessary, assists with the serving of drinks;
  • Observes licensing laws and other statutory regulations and regulates behaviour of customers as necessary;
  • Maintains financial records for the establishment; determines financial, staffing, material and other short- and long-term needs.
How do these thresholds compare with average earnings for this code?

Receptionists

Ineligible

Occupation Code: 4216

Example Job Titles

  • Hotel Receptionist
  • Front of House manager (hotel)

Default min. salary threshold: N/A

Min. salary threshold for a New Entrant: N/A

Example Job Tasks

  • Receives callers and clients and directs them to the appropriate person or department;
  • Records the details of enquiries and makes appointments and reservations;
  • Answers, screens and forwards or otherwise deals with telephone enquiries;
  • Supplies brochures, pamphlets and other information for clients;
  • Records details of visitors, issues security passes and informs visitors of any actions to be taken in case of an emergency;
  • Maintains reception area in good order.
This occupation code is ineligible for sponsorship due to its perceived skill level

Chefs

Eligible

Occupation Code: 5434

Example Job Titles

  • Chef
  • Chef-manager
  • Head chef
  • Pastry chef

Default min. salary threshold: £25,600

Min. salary threshold for a New Entrant: £20,480

Example Job Tasks

  • Requisitions or purchases and examines foodstuffs from suppliers to ensure quality;
  • Plans menus, prepares, seasons and cooks foodstuffs or oversees their preparation and monitors the quality of finished dishes;
  • Supervises, organises and instructs kitchen staff and manages the whole kitchen or an area of the kitchen;
  • Ensures relevant hygiene and health and safety standards are maintained within the kitchen;
  • Plans and co-ordinates kitchen work such as fetching, clearing and cleaning of equipment and utensils.
How do these thresholds compare with average earnings for this code?

Cooks

Ineligible

Occupation Code: 5435

Example Job Titles

  • Cook
  • Cook-supervisor
  • Head cook

Default min. salary threshold: N/A

Min. salary threshold for a New Entrant: N/A

Example Job Tasks

  • Requisitions or purchases foodstuffs and checks quality;
  • Plans meals, prepares, seasons and cooks foodstuffs;
  • Cooks and sells a range of meals, such as fish and chips, over the counter;
  • Plans and co-ordinates kitchen work such as fetching, clearing and cleaning of equipment and utensils.
This occupation code is ineligible for sponsorship due to its perceived skill level

Catering and bar managers

Eligible

Occupation Code: 5436

Example Job Titles

  • Bar manager
  • Catering manager
  • Floor manager (restaurant)
  • Kitchen manager
  • Steward (club)

Default min. salary threshold: £25,600

Min. salary threshold for a New Entrant: £20,480

Example Job Tasks

  • Plans catering or bar services and supervises staff;
  • Decides on range and quality of meals and beverages to be provided or discusses customer’s requirements for special occasions;
  • Purchases or directs the purchasing of supplies and arranges for preparation of accounts;
  • Verifies that quality of food, beverages and waiting service are as required and that kitchen and dining areas are kept clean in compliance with statutory requirements;
  • Checks that supplies are properly used and accounted for to prevent wastage and loss and to keep within budget limit.
How do these thresholds compare with average earnings for this code?

Kitchen and catering assistants

Ineligible

Occupation Code: 9272

Example Job Titles

  • Catering assistant
  • Crew member (fast food outlet)
  • Kitchen assistant
  • Kitchen porter

Default min. salary threshold: N/A

Min. salary threshold for a New Entrant: N/A

Example Job Tasks

  • Cleans or prepares food for cooks by hand or machine;
  • Carries meat, vegetables and other foodstuffs from delivery van to storeroom and from storeroom to kitchen;
  • Cleans and tidies service area, kitchen surfaces, crockery, cutlery, glassware, kitchen utensils and disposes of rubbish;
  • Prepares and serves beverages and light refreshments, accepts payment and gives change;
  • Keeps service area well stocked.
This occupation code is ineligible for sponsorship due to its perceived skill level

Waiters and waitresses

Ineligible

Occupation Code: 9273

Example Job Titles

  • Head waiter
  • Silver service waiter
  • Steward (catering)
  • Waiter
  • Waitress
  • Sommelier

Default min. salary threshold: N/A

Min. salary threshold for a New Entrant: N/A

Example Job Tasks

  • Sets tables with clean linen, cutlery, crockery and glassware;
  • Presents menus and wine lists to patrons and may describe dishes and advise on selection of food or wines;
  • Takes down orders for food and/or drinks and passes order to kitchen and/or bar;
  • Serves food and drinks;
  • Presents bill and accepts payment at end of the meal.
This occupation code is ineligible for sponsorship due to its perceived skill level

Bar staff

Ineligible

Occupation Code: 9274

Example Job Titles

  • Bar supervisor
  • Barmaid
  • Barperson
  • Bartender
  • Glass collector (public house)

Default min. salary threshold: N/A

Min. salary threshold for a New Entrant: N/A

Example Job Tasks

  • Assists in keeping bar properly stocked;
  • Washes used glassware and cleans and tidies bar area;
  • Takes customer orders and mixes and serves drinks;
  • Receives payment for drinks.
This occupation code is ineligible for sponsorship due to its perceived skill level

Other elementary services occupations not elsewhere classified

Ineligible

Occupation Code: 9279

Example Job Titles

  • Hotel assistant
  • Night porter
  • Head porter

Default min. salary threshold: N/A

Min. salary threshold for a New Entrant: N/A

Example Job Tasks

  • Assists hotel guests with luggage etc. on arrival and departure, keeps entrance lobby tidy, deals with guests’ enquiries;
  • Assists in the movement of scenery and other stage equipment;
  • examines and collects tickets at harbours, piers and similar thoroughfares or establishments not elsewhere classified;
  • collects payment, issues tickets and monitors the use of bathing huts, changing rooms, bath houses and deck chairs.
This occupation code is ineligible for sponsorship due to its perceived skill level
How do I know whether the person I want to sponsor qualifies as a New Entrant?

There are a few ways in which a candidate can qualify as a New Entrant. Most commonly, it will be because they are either aged 25 or under, or have recently graduated from a UK university. Contact Us for a free initial assessment and we’ll determine exactly what the minimum salary threshold is in your case. 

What's next?

If you want to sponsor a non-UK worker to fill one of the eligible roles mentioned above and the salary meets the requirements, the first thing you’ll need to do is apply for a Sponsor Licence if you don’t already have one. Read our quick guide to sponsorship for further information on the process.

If you’re interested in getting professional expert help with your application, please get in touch. We offer a free initial assessment to confirm the viability of the application.

N.B. The earnings data in this article stems from the Office for National Statistics’ Annual Survey of Hours & Earnings, 2020. Gaps where data is unavailable. 

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