Curry industry faces visa crisis

25 Apr 2016 | By Carl Thomas
The founder of the British Curry Awards says the industry is facing a recruitment crisis because of the problems restaurants have in obtaining a UK visa for chefs.
Enam Ali is calling for a new one-year UK visa to be introduced to allow venues to bring skilled chefs into Britain.
He has written to the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary, the Business Secretary and employment minister Priti Patel, in a 75-page document setting out the problems facing the industry.
The document calls for a UK visa similar to those already used in Germany, the US and Middle East, allowing skilled workers to come to Britain for a year and only work with the sponsoring restaurant.
It says: “We propose a tightly controlled, temporary work visa scheme where expert chefs from outside the EU are allowed to enter the UK on very strict employment terms. These terms would limit their employment to a maximum of one-year with no right of return, no chance of residency or out-of-work benefits.
“The employee’s dependents could not be brought to the UK and this means there would be no burden whatever on the welfare state or the British taxpayer.”
It’s estimated that around 600 curry houses have closed in the UK in the last 18 months due to the problems they have had in recruiting skilled staff.  There are concerns that more may also be forced to close their doors.
Wages for skilled chefs already in the UK have skyrocketed and restaurants say they are unable to recruit more people to expand their businesses.

Under the current rules, chefs must earn at least £29,570 after their food and lodgings have been deducted, and they are not permitted to work at outlets with takeaway provisions, which most now do.