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UK Chef Visa Sponsorship Requirements for Employers

Recruiting talented chefs from abroad is becoming increasingly important for UK restaurants and hotels. Obtaining a UK Chef Visa sponsorship, however, can be challenging for employers.

The Immigration Advice Service can assist you with UK Chef Visa Sponsorship requirements by calling +44 (0)333 305 9375, leave us a message online or send us an email.

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    UK Chef Visa: A Brief Overview

    The UK Chef Visa, more formally recognised as the Skilled Worker Visa for chefs, is a customised condition within the UK’s immigration framework. This visa lets chefs from anywhere in the world come and work in the UK for up to five years, and you don’t need a set number of years working as a chef to get it.

    UK restaurants and hotels often need more chefs than they can find locally. This visa helps them get chefs from other countries to fill these roles. It’s not just about finding someone to cook but about getting the best talent to make the best food. And for chefs, it’s a chance to work in the UK and show what they can do.

    There’s also another option for chefs who want to work in the UK for a short time, such as at a food festival or a culinary masterclass at a renowned venue. They can apply for visas like the temporary worker visa or the Paid Permitted Engagement visa. In short, the UK Chef Visa offers opportunities for chefs to work in the UK and for UK businesses to get the chefs they need.

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    If you are an employer looking to hire chefs from overseas, you may require guidance form our immigration solicitors. Learn more

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      How To Bring Skilled Chefs To The UK: Business Requirements

      UK businesses aiming to hire skilled chefs from abroad must stick to certain specific requirements. Here’s a brief guide to understanding these essential steps for successful international hiring.

      Sponsorship Licence

      UK businesses must first secure a restaurant sponsorship licence from the Home Office. This essential step not only establishes the facts of the business but also highlights its genuine intent to recruit non-residential workers.

      By obtaining this licence, businesses signal their commitment to stick to immigration regulations and ensure proper employment practices.
      Businesses seeking a sponsor licence are required to satisfy certain conditions set out by the UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) division of the Home Office:

      It’s primary for businesses to demonstrate that they have been legally established and are currently operating within the UK. Any act of illegitimacy or questionable operations could delay the application process.

      The business, especially its crucial personnel, must be free from unspent criminal convictions. The home office mainly concerns serious offences like immigration violations, fraud, or money laundering. Any convictions in these areas will weigh heavily against the application.

      Before applying for a sponsor licence, businesses must have genuine and eligible job openings. It isn’t about simply creating positions, and there should be an actual demand and requirement for the role within the business structure.

      If a business has had its sponsor licence revoked by the UKVI in the last 12 months, it becomes ineligible to apply for a new one. A clean record, in these circumstances, is crucial.

      A robust system must be in place to effectively manage and monitor all sponsored workers. This is to ensure that businesses remain compliant with UK immigration rules and that they’re not mistakenly allowing or promoting illegal employment within the UK government.

      The overarching requirement is that businesses must not pose a threat or vulnerability to the UK’s immigration control system. This implies that businesses should have a history of integrity, transparency, and adherence to all local regulations and immigration laws.

      How to Apply for a Sponsor Licence

      To facilitate overseas hires in the hospitality sector, you’ll need a sponsor licence. Here’s a brief outline to get you started:

      • Establish robust HR systems. This ensures that once you start hiring from overseas, you can effectively manage, monitor, and report on these employees.
      • With your systems in place, proceed to the sponsor licence application form. Please fill it out with accuracy.
      • Depending on the nature and size of your business, you’ll be required to pay a fee, either £536 or £1,476.
      • Post-application, be prepared for a visit. UKVI might send an officer to verify your willingness to accept sponsorship responsibilities and confirm that everything is in order with what you’ve shown in your application.
      • Once everything’s submitted and checked, UKVI takes about eight weeks to make a decision. But, if you’re against the clock, consider the priority route. By paying an additional £500, you can expect a decision within ten working days.
      Chef's hands cutting green vegetables

      Chefs' Requirements To Qualify For The Skilled Worker Visa

      Aspiring chefs looking to work in the UK should have a clear understanding of the visa application process. The requirements for chefs seeking to qualify for the Skilled Worker Visa are:

      • To work as a chef in the UK, your job must be on the UK’s approved list, designated by SOC code 5434.
      • You’ll need a job offer from a UK business holding a sponsor licence to proceed with your application.
      • Chef salaries in the UK start at a minimum of £25,600 annually, but the average earnings tend to be around £18,900 per year.
      • Proficiency in the English language is crucial; you must either pass an approved English test at the B1 level or provide equivalent evidence.
      • It’s advisable to have savings of at least £1,270 to ensure a stable start in the UK.
      • You’ll require a clear job description, a valid passport, and a thorough understanding of the Certificate of Sponsorship to meet all the visa requirements.

      For help with navigating the UK sponsorship visa process, reach out to us. Learn more

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        Step By Step How To Apply For a UK Chef Visa (Skilled Worker Visa)

        For businesses wanting to hire and chefs looking to work in the UK, it’s essential to know the visa process. Here’s a straightforward guide for both groups to help them along the way.

        For Businesses (Sponsoring an Overseas Chef)

        • Begin by applying for a sponsorship licence from the Home Office. This ensures the legitimacy of the business in hiring overseas employees.
        • Ensure that there’s a genuine need for the chef within your business structure. This isn’t about merely creating roles; it’s about fulfilling actual business demands.
        • Once you’ve identified the chef you want to hire, offer them the job. This needs to be done formally and will require some specifics related to the Skilled Worker visa application.
        • Once the job offer is accepted, you must provide the chef with a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) reference number. They will need this for their visa application.
        • Keep a copy of all relevant documents and ensure ongoing compliance with the sponsorship duties. This includes monitoring and reporting the chef’s activities in the UK.

        For Individual Chefs (Applying for a Skilled Worker Visa)

        • Ensure you’ve received a formal job offer from a UK business that holds a sponsorship licence from the UKVI.
        • For the visa application process, chefs must have a valid passport or an equivalent travel ID. They should also secure the Certificate of Sponsorship reference number from their UK approved employer. Demonstrating English proficiency is mandatory, and they need to provide proof. Furthermore, they must present details of sufficient funds, ensuring a minimum of £1,270, unless their sponsor provides this.
        • Ensure that your salary meets the visa requirement. Chefs should ideally be paid a minimum of £25,600 per annum or the ‘going rate’ for the profession, whichever is higher.
        • Pass an approved English language test at the B1 level or higher unless excused.
        • Using all the gathered information and documents, apply online for the Skilled Worker visa from outside the UK.
        • After submitting your application, you will need to go to a visa application centre to provide the necessary documents, fingerprints and have your photo taken.
        • After submission, track the status of your application online. Usually, visa application decisions are made within three weeks.
        • If successful, you’ll receive a vignette in your passport. This will be valid for 30 days, so you’ll need to travel within this time frame. Upon arrival in the UK, you’ll receive your biometric residence permit.
        Chefs hands placing ice cubes amongst vegetables

        How IAS Can Help With Sponsoring Chefs From Overseas

        When seeking to sponsor chefs from overseas or sponsor hospitality workers, navigating the UK’s immigration system can be intimidating.

        This is where the Immigration Advice Service can help. As UK immigration experts, IAS provides specialised immigration guidance to businesses looking to bring international culinary talent to the UK.

        Our team is adept at guiding clients through the UK’s immigration procedures, ensuring that all requirements for the Skilled Worker Visa are met.

        Whether it’s understanding eligibility, managing documentation, or preparing visa applications, IAS ensures that both businesses and chefs experience a smooth application process. If you require any help or have queries, do not hesitate to get in touch with us at +44 (0)333 305 9375.

        Our specialised team has helped hundreds of businesses and individuals. Get help from us. Learn more

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          How Can IAS Help?

          When seeking to sponsor chefs from overseas, navigating the UK’s immigration system can be intimidating. This is where the Immigration Advice Service can help. As UK immigration experts, IAS provides specialised immigration guidance to businesses looking to bring international culinary talent to the UK. Our team is adept at guiding clients through the UK’s immigration procedures, ensuring that all requirements for the Skilled Worker Visa are met.

          Whether it’s understanding eligibility, managing documentation, or preparing visa applications, IAS ensures that both businesses and chefs experience a smooth application process. If you require any help or have queries, do not hesitate to get in touch with us at +44 (0)333 305 9375 or leave us a message online.

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                    Related pages for your continued reading.

                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    Yes, chefs are in high demand in the UK due to the vibrant culinary scene and a shortage of skilled professionals.

                    The best country for a chef career depends on personal preferences and the desired culinary focus. Countries like France, Italy, and Japan are renowned for their culinary traditions and might appeal to chefs seeking specific experiences.

                    Chef visa sponsorship UK involves finding a company in your field that has a sponsorship licence. Once you receive a job offer, they can then provide a Certificate of Sponsorship, essential for your visa application.

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