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UK Hospitality Worker Visa: A Guide For Employers

The hospitality industry is one of the most critical in any country. Hospitality businesses allow for tourism to flourish and for events, leisure, and vacationing to be possible. Yet, the UK has seen a decrease in hospitality workers, and therefore hiring employees on a Hospitality Worker visa from overseas could help the industry.

If you are an employer working in the UK hospitality industry and are considering bringing in workers from overseas, speak to a legal advisor from IAS today. We can help you understand the process and get started; just give us a call at +44 (0)333 305 9375 today.

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    Hiring Hospitality Staff From Overseas To The UK

    Skilled worker visas allow individuals to enter and stay in the UK if they are doing an eligible job with a verified, approved employer.

    This is the visa choice best suited to those in the restaurant and hospitality sector For an applicant to qualify for a Skilled Worker visa, they must meet the following criteria:

    • The applicant must already have a job offer in the UK.
    • The applicant needs to meet the minimum salary threshold and skill threshold for the role.
    • The potential employer of the individual needs to have a sponsor licence issued by the Home Office. This sponsor licence must be for skilled worker visa applicants.
    • The potential employer of the applicant needs to have granted them a Certificate of Sponsorship that has a classification code that is appropriate for the occupational standard.
    • The applicant needs to meet the Skilled Worker visa eligibility criteria and meet the required 70 points of the UK immigration system points structure.

    A very important aspect of the recruitment process to recruit hospitality workers from overseas is getting the standard occupational classification (SOC) code correct. When sponsoring, should the employer get this wrong, then the Home Office will reject the visa of the applicant, which will lead to a delayed process and additional costs.

    Visa Sponsorship Requirements For UK Hospitality Establishments


    As a hospitality business in the UK that is planning to recruit overseas workers, it is imperative that the business first apply for and obtain a sponsor licence from UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration). For this sponsor licence application to be successful, the business is required to meet the eligibility criteria.

    This means that every applying business needs to prove to UKVI that they meet the following criteria:

    • The business must be genuine and has to be operating and trading lawfully.
    • The business must have a genuine need to sponsor overseas workers for eligible roles.
    • The business must have the necessary HR systems in place to meet the sponsorship licence duties and manage the sponsorship process adequately.
    • The business agrees to pay a salary that meets at least the minimum salary requirements for the Skilled Worker route.
    • The business does not represent any threat at all to immigration control.
    • The business and those concerning the SMS process in the business do not have any unspent criminal convictions for offences related to immigration.
    • The business has key personnel on board who are considered to be dependable and honest.

    Key Personnel

    When a business in the UK applies for a sponsor licence, UK Visas and Immigration will ask for the names of all of their key personnel. The key personnel in place need to be British by nationality, must be on the payroll, have no unspent criminal convictions, and cannot be related to the candidate.

    Among the key personnel in a company, there must be four primary types. These are as follows:

    • An authorising officer: This is a senior person who’s got the ultimate responsibility for the licence as well as any immigration issues. It is up to them to ensure that all of the licence duties as a sponsorship holder are met.
    • Key contact person: This person is the primary point of contact with the Home Office.
    • Level 1 users and level 2 users: These users are individuals who manage the SMS system on a daily basis.

    Our expert immigration team can help your business hire hospitality staff legally from overseas.

    Foreign Hospitality Worker Visa Requirements

    When the sponsored workers apply for this work visa, they will need to provide the following documentation:

    • The certificate of sponsorship reference number is obtained from the prospective UK employer.
    • Proof that the applicant has knowledge of the English Language.
    • A form of valid passport or another similar document that shows proof of identity and nationality.
    • The job title the applicant is being hired for as well as the annual salary.
    • The occupation code for the job.
    • The name of the employer, as well as the number for their sponsor licence, will be on the certificate of sponsorship.

    Applicants should ask their prospective employers for a copy of their certificate of sponsorship if they do not have one already.

    It is also possible that the applicant may be asked to provide additional documents. If so, these will include the following:

    • Proof that the applicant has enough finances, such as savings, to support themselves in the UK. This could be done in the form of bank statements, or if the employer can support you, it will be shown on the certificate of sponsorship.
    • TB test results, if applicable.
    • Proof of any relationship with a partner or children if the applicant has family applying with them.
    • A valid ATAS certificate is required if the employer informs the applicant they need one if their job includes researching sensitive subjects at a PhD level or above.
    • A blank page in their passport if they are not EU citizens, or from Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, or Liechtenstein, or if they are from these places but the passport does not have a chip in it.

    Eligible Hospitality Roles For The UK Hospitality Visa

    Hospitality roles can be eligible for the Skilled Worker visa. The roles that meet eligibility requirements include the following:

    • Hotel and accommodation managers and proprietors. This could include positions such as caravan park owners, landladies, hotel managers, accommodation managers, and so on.
    • Managers and proprietors in the catering and restaurant sector. This could include positions such as catering operations managers, cafe owners, restaurant managers, catering establishment managers, a chip shopkeeper operations manager and so on.
    • Publicans and managers for licenced premises, including bar managers.
    • Leisure and sports managers, including leisure centre managers, theatre managers, and so on.
    • Travel agency managers and proprietors.
    • Exhibition and conference organisers and managers.

    However, this being said, a majority of hospitality workers will be eligible for the Scale-up visa instead of the Skilled Worker visa.

    How To Apply For A UK Hospitality Worker Visa

    Once the employer has confirmed a certificate of sponsorship is in place, the employee can apply for their visa. As part of this, they will need to prove their identity, which can be done in different ways depending on their location.

    Either way, they will need to have their biometrics taken at a visa application centre through their photograph and fingerprints. Or, they can use the UK Immigration: ID Check app to scan ID documents.

    The applicant simply needs to fill out their online application.

    Once the application process is completed and all supporting documents (as shown above) have been sent off, it can take around three weeks to receive a decision. It can take longer if supporting documents need verification, an interview is needed, and in some other scenarios.

    Applications are non-refundable once UKVI has started processing them.

    Alternative Visa Routes

    The primary visa routes available for hospitality workers from overseas coming into the UK include:

    • The Skilled Worker visa.
    • The Scale-Up Worker Visa.
    • Temporary Worker visa.

    Always check to see what types of occupations fit into the selected visa categories before applying for a sponsorship licence.

    Contact our legal specialist team to help you obtain a UK hospitality worker visa

    How IAS Can Help With The Immigration Aspect Of Hiring Hospitality Workers

    Understanding sponsor licences in the UK is tricky, and the hospitality sector may not always be considered as applicable for Skilled Worker visas. Talking to an immigration lawyer can help you understand what type of visa you should get a sponsor licence for.

    Here at IAS, we are well-versed in immigration law and can help businesses understand how it works and what they need to consider before applying for a sponsor licence. Our legal team can also help you and your employees with applications and getting a certificate of sponsorship quickly.

    Give us a call today at +44 (0)333 305 9375 to get the legal help you need to ensure a smooth process for you and your migrant employees.

    We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at our Lagos office, all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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