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Sponsor Licences to Recruit Overseas Workers for Restaurant Jobs

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Many small restaurants and cafes are really struggling to recruit and fill vacancies from the pool of UK job seekers but many restaurant and café owners assume that after Brexit and the introduction of the UK points-based immigration system, their business won't qualify for a sponsor licence and that overseas restaurant job applicants won't qualify for a skilled worker visa.

Head of the OTS Solicitors business immigration team, Hans Sok Appadu, says Sponsorship Licence lawyers have seen a sharp rise in enquiries about sponsor licences for restaurants and cafes in London and throughout England. Sponsor licences for restaurants can be secured within around six to eight weeks, depending on the paperwork needed.

UK Online and London Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers

To apply for a sponsor licence, call the specialist Sponsorship Licence lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

Sponsor licences and the restaurant industry

There is a myth that unless you own a well-established top end Michelin star type restaurant there is no point in applying for a sponsor licence but that just isn’t true. With new cafes, tea shops and restaurants opening and existing restaurants booming after the end of COVID-19 related restrictions, there is a restaurant recruitment crisis in all sectors of the restaurant industry, from coffee house chains to corner cafes and in restaurants of all sizes and cuisines.

Business immigration lawyer, Hans Sok Appadu, is keen to get the message out that the Home Office rules on businesses that qualify to apply for a sponsor licence are very flexible so most restaurants, cafes and pubs will meet the eligibility criteria for a sponsor licence because:

  • You don’t have to have been trading for a specified number of years before being able to apply for a sponsor licence – start-up restaurant businesses can apply for a sponsor licence.
  • Your business doesn’t need to be turning over a minimum amount per year.
  • Your business doesn’t need to employ a minimum number of people.
  • The restaurant does not need a HR team to manage the sponsor licence as one person can be allocated as the Home Office contact to undertake the key sponsor licence management roles or the business can ask a Sponsorship Licence lawyer to manage the sponsor licence for them.
  • There are no rules on sponsor licences being restricted to specific sectors of the restaurant industry. Anyone with a trading business who meets the sponsor licence eligibility criteria can apply.

Once restaurant owners are convinced that they can apply for a sponsor licence their next question to Sponsorship Licence lawyers is whether the application will take ages and involve a lot of hassle and paperwork .

In recent weeks our Sponsorship Licence lawyers have been securing sponsor licences within six to eight weeks of applying. It can take a bit longer sometimes or be a lot quicker if a restaurant business is willing to pay Home Office premium fees for a speedy decision.

All Sponsorship Licence lawyers will tell you there is paperwork involved in the sponsor licence application and in managing the sponsor licence but all that can be managed for busy restaurants and cafes leaving them to focus on menus, covers, overheads and profit.

What staff can restaurant owners employ with a sponsor licence?

A sponsor licence is the first step to a restaurant business sponsoring overseas workers on skilled worker visas. Not all vacancies can be filled using the skilled worker visa route as for a job applicant to be eligible to apply for a skilled worker visa they not only need a job offer from a sponsoring employer but the job has to have a standard occupation code and the job must meet the minimum salary threshold.

Standard occupation codes (SOC) are codes given to jobs by the government. If the job your restaurant is recruiting to fill does not match a job description or have a SOC, you will not be able to sponsor a worker using the skilled worker visa route. There may be other options available to you, such as employing a part-time worker in the UK on a student visa or in the UK on the graduate visa scheme or employing an EU national who has pre-settled or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme.

Skilled worker visa jobs in the restaurant business 

The current restaurant and café jobs with a SOC are:

  • Restaurant and catering establishment managers and proprietors (code 1223)
  • Chefs (code 5434)
  • Catering and bar managers (code 5436).

Related job titles for code 1223 are:

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

Related job titles for code 5434 are:

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

Related job titles for code 5436 are:

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

The government also sets a going rate for each job with an SOC.

  • For code 1223 jobs it is £21,000 (£10.36 per hour)
  • For code 5434 Jobs it is £18,900 per year ( £9.32 per hour)
  • For code 5436 jobs it is £18,400 (£9.07 per hour)

The going rate is a national rate so it is the same whether you are recruiting a manager for a chain of coffee shops in central London or looking to recruit someone to manage an Essex fish and chip shop.

Going rates are annual gross figures based on a 39-hour working week. They must be pro-rated for working patterns, based on the weekly working hours. However, when it comes to the minimum salary threshold for the skilled worker visa, the immigration rules say that the worker must be paid the minimum salary threshold of £25,600 or eighty per cent of the going rate for the job, whichever is higher.

Sponsorship Licence lawyers can advise on whether the minimum salary threshold can be reduced from the figure of £25,600 to £20,480 if the skilled worker visa applicant qualifies as a ‘new entrant’ for a skilled worker visa.

Next steps

Our business immigration lawyers can talk you through the sponsor licence application process for your restaurant business so you can decide if the sponsor licence is the best way for your business to fill its vacancies.

UK Online and London Based Immigration Solicitors and Sponsorship Licence Lawyers  

For advice on applying for a sponsor licence call the Sponsorship Licence lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online.

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