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Restaurants wanting to hire Chefs from outside of the UK

View profile for Kashif Kamran
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The 1 January 2021 marked the end of free movement and introduced a new single global immigration system where there is no discrimination between EU and non-EU nationals. Anyone arriving from the EU after 31 December 2020 will need to be sponsored.  

Restaurants wishing to employ chefs from out of the UK will need to apply for a sponsorship licence and be approved by the Home Office as sponsors prior to being able to offer sponsorship to future employees from out of the UK.  

As part of the sponsorship application the business will be required to submit evidence to show that they are a genuine business with lawful trading presence in the UK.  The Home Office will be looking to see if the business meets the general eligibility criteria, this can be found in Appendix A: supporting documents for sponsor licence application.   Once the sponsorship licence is approved by the Home Office, the person appointed on the sponsorship management system will be able to issue a certificate of sponsorship to the individual they wish to sponsor.

The easy part is applying for the sponsorship licence. The difficult part is maintaining the status of a sponsorship licence by ensuring the business/restaurant in this case is compliant with its sponsorship duties.  

What has changed?  

The new skilled worker category has introduced the following: 

  • The minimum salary threshold has reduced from £30,000  
  • The minimum skill level has also reduced to RQF level 3  
  • Previous restrictions on fast food or standard fare outlets sponsoring chefs have been lifted.  

What are the costs of obtaining a skilled worker sponsorship licence? 

The cost of obtaining a sponsorship licence will depend on the size of your business: 

Type of licence 

Fee for small or charitable sponsors 

Fee for medium or large sponsor 




There are also other costs associated, they are as follows;  

Certificate of sponsorship 


Immigration skills charge  

£364 Per Annum 

The normal payrate for hiring chefs from out of the UK would be £25,600 based on a 39-hour working week. However, if the employee is classed as a new entrant, I.e., a recent graduate from a UK university or an individual under the age of 26 the employer can pay £20,480. A point to note is that an employer can only rely on the new entrant rate for 4 years after this the salary must be increased to at least £25,600.  

Prior to the introduction of the new skilled worker route, businesses were only able to sponsor a head chef, executive chef etc with 5 years' experience at that level and be paid at least £30,000. This made it difficult for businesses to employ any chefs from out of the UK. Thus, the new system allows restaurants to employ skilled chefs at any level.