What are the current eligibility requirements?
To accommodate the skill level reduction, a new occupation code has been provided in accordance with Appendix Skilled Occupations to include all the eligible chef jobs:
- Head chef
- Pastry chef
Although most chefs will be eligible for a skilled worker visa, not all jobs in the kitchen are suitable. For example, cooks and kitchen and catering assistants are not eligible under the skilled worker route.
Under Appendix Skilled Worker, in addition to satisfying validity and suitability requirements, applicants (including chefs) must score 50 mandatory points for sponsorship, have a job at an appropriate skill level, and English language skills at level B1 or above. They must also score 20 tradeable points, primarily in relation to their salary level.
50 mandatory points
To score the 50 mandatory points, a chef must first obtain a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from an eligible Home Office licensed sponsor who holds a relevant sponsor licence.
Secondly, a chef must be sponsored for a job at an appropriate skill level – so they must not be a kitchen assistant but be sponsored as a chef. An important change is that the ‘resident labour market test’ has been abolished. This previously involved a UK employer advertising a job on different platforms for 28 days, and providing evidence from the screening and interview process which showed no ‘settled worker’ was suitable for the advertised role.
However, the sponsor is still required to show ‘a genuine need for the job’ and that ‘the applicant has the appropriate skills, qualifications and experience needed to do the job as described’. Home Office guidance further explains that if a sponsor ‘did not advertise the role, you must be able to explain how you recruited the worker’. Therefore, employers are advised to retain evidence from their recruitment processes.
To gain the final 10 points, chefs must show English language ability through the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in all four components (reading, writing, speaking and listening) of at least level B1 (intermediate).
20 tradeable points
While points can be scored for age, switching from UK study, or for holding a PhD, the most common route for chefs is to claim points based on salary.
To be able to secure these 20 points, a chef must be paid at least £26,200 per year (or £10.75 per hour) based on a working week of up to 48 hours. If an applicant is under the age of 26, or has within the last two years graduated from a UK university, they can benefit from the ‘new entrant’ rate – only £20,960 per year or £10.75 per hour.
In addition to scoring the above mentioned 70 points, chefs who are applying for entry clearance from overseas, or applying for permission to stay but have not been in the UK for 12 months, will need to have sufficient funds to meet a maintenance requirement. Their sponsor, however, can certify that they will, if necessary, maintain and accommodate their sponsored worker up to the end of the first month of their employment (to at least £1,270).