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A relaxation of the Tier 2 rules for restaurants wanting to sponsor chefs (4 May 2020)

Date: 04/05/2020
Duncan Lewis, Business Immigration Solicitors, A relaxation of the Tier 2 rules for restaurants wanting to sponsor chefs

Those in the catering industry know that the preparation of food is the key to a restaurant being a success. Business immigration director Ayan Yalchin offers specialist advice to help employers sponsor chefs from around the world.

Skilled chefs are currently under what is known as the shortage occupation list. When the government initially placed ‘skilled chefs’ under the shortage occupation list (where there is no need to comply with the resident labour market test)) it looked like they were opening the doors to much needed ‘skilled chefs’ across the land supporting and boosting the catering industry.

However, just as it looked like the government were supporting restaurants, it became apparent that another rule within the Immigration Rules stipulated that no restaurant could sponsor a chef if it had a ‘take-away’ service as part of the business.

In this modern world where consumers order quality, high–end food online which can be delivered to their homes via a number of courier services, the government chose not to consider that now most restaurants offer a take-away service. This meant that sponsoring skilled chefs was not possible for most restaurants. Luckily, for the catering industry the take-away clause was removed as of 6 October 2019 allowing more chefs from around the world to bring their skills to the United Kingdom, enriching our restaurants.


Requirements to sponsor a skilled chef under Tier 2 (especially in light of Brexit)


  • You must have a Sponsorship licence

    As a business you would need to have a sponsorship licence to enable you to sponsor a skilled chef under Tier 2. A sponsorship licence is permission given by the Home Office to your business to sponsor migrants to work in the UK. Full requirements to apply for a sponsorship licence can be found here.


  • Your restaurant must not be a ‘standard fare outlet’ or ‘fast food outlet’

    Although the government has relaxed the rule and removed the ‘take away clause’ your catering business must not be a ‘standard fare outlet’ or ‘fast food outlet’.

    A ‘ standard fare outlet’ for the purpose of the immigration rules means ‘where the menu is designed centrally for outlets in a chain/franchise, rather than by a chef in the individual restaurant. Standard fare outlets also include those restaurants where dishes and/or cooking sauces are bought in ready – made, rather than prepared from fresh’. This would make sense as a chef ’s skills would not be needed if the dishes and sauces are bought in ready-made, rather than made from fresh. Moreover, a skilled chef would normally create the menu in a restaurant.

    Fast food for the purpose of the immigration rules means where ‘food is prepared in bulk for speed of service, rather than to individual order’. This again would make sense as a skilled chef would normally prepare food to individual order. When making an application if would be prudent to keep within these definitions. For example a fast food outlet that has a standard menu across all branches and would be unable to sponsor a skilled chef within the context of this article. On the other hand an independent restaurant specialising in high end specialist cuisine from anywhere in the world should be fine.


  • You can only sponsor a ‘skilled chef’

    A skilled chef would constitute either an executive chef; head chef; sous chef; or specialist chef. The position must be for experienced chefs with five years or more relevant experience in a position of at least the same level you are looking for in your restaurant.

Employers, in particular restaurants in the catering industry, should apply for a sponsorship licence before free movement ends on 31 December 2020 in order to maintain or enhance staff levels.

Author Ayan Yalchin is a business immigration director at Duncan Lewis Solicitors with more than 19 years’ post-qualification experience acting on behalf of individuals and businesses in a variety of immigration related proceedings. Ayan can assist with your sponsorship licence application ensuring your systems comply with the Home Office requirements, with applying and assigning certificate of sponsorships, incoming migrants with their Tier 2 visa and prepare your restaurant for potential Home Office inspections.

Contact Ayan on 020 7275 2011 or at ayany@duncanlewis.com.


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