The hospitality industry took a big hit during the Covid-19 pandemic, but there are still tens of thousands of restaurants and cafes across the UK and hundreds of thousands of employees. One of the great advantages of working in this industry is that you don’t need a lot of experience or qualifications to get started waiting tables, chopping vegetables or washing dishes, and there’s usually room for rising through the ranks and furthering your career.
But, the UK’s visa restrictions can be complicated, especially when it comes to working visas. How many hours can you work? Do you need a job offer before you arrive? Does this job qualify you for a work visa? Who can sponsor you?
These are all common questions that we regularly hear when people want to move to the UK for work, and the hospitality industry is no exception. So, let’s get into the details.
Who Can Sponsor You for UK Visas?
There’s no straight answer as to who can sponsor you for a UK visa, as it depends on what visa you’re applying for. For work visas, you need a certificate of sponsorship from a valid company and a position that is on the government’s list of eligible occupations. There is a different list for each type of visa.
For a company to be approved as a valid sponsor in the UK, it must first make an application for the business to be a sponsor.
The company must:
- not have any “unspent criminal convictions” for immigration or financial offences
- not have had sponsorship revoked within the last 12 months
- have systems and staff in place to manage sponsorship of staff
- send all the required supporting documents to the Home Office
If a company meets the requirements outlined by the government, they can apply online and pay the application fee. Once a business has received notice that they are eligible to sponsor foreign workers to move to the UK to work, they can offer a position and create a certificate of sponsorship for the prospective employee to then continue with their working visa application.
Can a Friend or Relative Sponsor You for a UK Visa?
For work visas, your sponsor must have an eligible business and position for you to join when moving to the UK for you to receive your UK working visa – it does not matter what relation you have with the employer, personal or professional, so long as you both meet the eligibility requirements.
However, for a UK Visitor visa, a family member, partner, friend or business connection who is a UK citizen or permanent resident can sponsor you to support your visa application for the UK. Or, if you have a family member who has been living permanently in the UK before 31 December 2021 from an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland, you may be able to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme which allows you to move to the UK to join them.
What’s a Skilled Worker Visa?
A Skilled Worker visa is for people to move to the UK for work in a specific industry categorised by the UK government as in high demand or requiring certain qualifications, experience or skills. It replaced the Tier 2 General Work visa.
For a Skilled Worker visa, you must:
- have a job offer from an approved business before making your application
- have a job offer for an eligible job
- have a detailed certificate of sponsorship explaining your proposed job
- have a proposed salary that meets minimum wage requirements or the “going rate” for that job
- be able to prove your fluency in reading, writing, speaking and listening in English to at least B1 according to the CEFR
If you’re applying from an English-speaking country such as Malta, Canada or Trinidad and Tobago, you won’t have to prove your English fluency; similarly, if you’re a registered medical professional who has already taken an English proficiency test as part of your medical exams, you won’t have to prove your fluency again.
You can begin your application no more than 3 months before your proposed start date for your job in the UK, either from outside of the UK, or from inside the UK if you’re switching visas or extending your previous Skilled Worker visa. Sometimes the list of eligible jobs changes, so make sure your job is still on the list before applying to extend your visa. You’ll receive a response regarding your application within 3 weeks if you apply from outside of the UK, and 8 weeks if applying from within.
What are Eligible Jobs for the Skilled Worker Visa?
The list of eligible jobs for the Skilled Worker visa occasionally changes according to the demand for certain roles within the UK, so it’s best to refer to the government’s official list before making your application to be sure that the information you have is up to date.
There are hundreds of jobs on the list of eligible occupations for skilled workers, including some positions in the hospitality industry, including:
- Bar manager
- Café owner
- Catering operations manager
- Kitchen manager
- Restaurant manager
- Restaurant floor manager
- Take-away food shop manager
Since the only eligible positions in the catering and hospitality industries are managerial positions, you’ll need to have some experience as a manager in your field to show on your application that you’re the perfect fit for the job you’re being sponsored for.
Can a Restaurant Sponsor a Chef to Work in the UK?
Unfortunately, unless you’re applying to become a manager of or within a restaurant, you can’t get a sponsorship from a restaurant for a Skilled Worker visa for the UK. While chefs are skilled in the work they do, and the UK celebrates world gastronomy, according to the UK government’s specified Skilled Workers, a chef or cook cannot be sponsored to come to the UK on a Skilled Worker visa.
Is a Skilled Worker Visa Difficult to Get?
If you meet all of the requirements for a Skilled Worker visa, it’s not difficult to get at all, however, ensuring you meet all the requirements and obtaining all of the relevant documents can be tricky.
As well as completing your application form and paying the visa application fee, you will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (approximately £624) and show you have a suitable amount of money available in your bank account to support you during your first month in the UK (at least £1,270).
You may bring your partner and dependants to the UK with you on a Skilled Worker visa, however, they must also pay the health charge in order to enter the UK and use NHS services, as well as show the same available funds for their first month in the UK. If your prospective employer explains and demonstrates that they will cover your and your family’s first month’s living costs, then you don’t need to have these funds available in your bank account.
Getting Restaurant Jobs in the UK as a Non-UK Citizen
Although restaurants can’t sponsor your visa to allow you to move to the UK, if you’re already in the UK on a different visa, you may be able to help support yourself during your time in the UK by getting a job in a restaurant. Non-British students, for example, are permitted to work part-time with their student visas and don’t need relevant work experience or qualifications for many restaurant and kitchen jobs, unlike Skilled Workers who do not have a minimum or maximum number of hours they can work.
Need Help with Your UK Visa Application?
Understanding who can sponsor you to work in the UK and what’s the best visa for your specific situation can be complicated if you try to do it alone. That’s why Synergy Immigration Solutions are here to help you get your documents in order and apply for your UK visa. Contact us today to find out how we can help you with your UK visa application.